It's not easy being the replacement for injured defensive stalwart Chad Marshall. But Eric Gehrig was satisfied how he slid into the center back slot on Saturday for the two-time MLS Defender of the Year.
"We got the shutout, we won so I must have done something right," Gehrig told the media after the Columbus Crew's 1-0 victory at Toronto, which ended a two-match losing streak.
After an unsettled start, Gehrig occasionally showed some of the same aerial exploits as Marshall, clearing balls from danger that the Crew veteran is famous for.
"Maybe in the first half, he was hesitating being on the ball, deciding where he was going to pass it," Columbus coach Robert Warzycha said. "The second half, he was good."
Maybe even good enough to earn a second straight start when the Crew head to New York on May 26. Marshall, who injured his hamstring in the last match vs. Colorado on May 11, will likely sit the next one as well and his central defense partner Gláuber will be suspended for the game.
The Brazilian defender was issued his fifth yellow card of the young season on Saturday in the 78th minute to earn the one-game ban. If he had made it through the match unscathed, the good behavior incentive would have kicked in and his cautions would have been reduced to three.
Warzycha didn't want to speculate on what the backline would look like for the Red Bulls game.
"We just won the game," he said. "We'll see next week who is available."
There is concern because central midfielders Danny O'Rourke and Agustín Viana, both of whom can be used on the defense, did not play against Toronto because of injuries, although they might be in better position than Marshall to return next week.
Gehrig was one of three players to make their season debut for the Crew on Saturday. His last appearance was a start vs. TFC in the 2012 season final on Oct. 28.
"I was happy I got the call," he said. "It's hard when you're only getting games here and there, but you can't make excuses. We're all professionals here."