OBETZ, Ohio – The Columbus Crew had a subdued demeanor for practice Friday, the first since an MRI revealed that mainstay midfielder Eddie Gaven tore his left ACL late in Wednesday's Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match against the Dayton Dutch Lions.
There is no date set for Gaven's season-ending surgery, but the Crew will need to find a replacement for their co-leader in goals last season while playing all but 70 minutes. Gaven, 26, is expected to be ready for the 2014 preseason.
"He's young. A lot of players have the same injury," coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com. "There's going to be the surgery, the rehab and he's going to be back."
Although Gaven had not scored in 10 MLS games this season, he had the first goal and assisted on the winner by Meram against Dayton just before being injured on a tackle in the 85th minute, a play that Warzycha said was not malicious.
Gaven had directly or indirectly aided all four goals spanning the Dayton match and last Sunday's 2-2 draw at New York.
"He knows how to finish games and obviously how to win games," forward Dominic Oduro said. "I hope some of the guys on the bench learn a little bit from that because it's crucial that we need them to do exactly the same when they come in for Eddie."
Meanwhile, Warzycha has second-guessed himself for having Gaven in the Dayton match so late in the game after having substituted Ben Speas and Designated Player Federico Higuain.
"Would I take [Gaven] off instead of somebody else? Unfortunately I didn't," the coach said.
However, he stands by his decision to use several of his regulars against the USL PRO team because the Dutch Lions upset the Crew in the 2012 tournament.
"We tried to win the game and thought about putting a decent team out there," Warzycha said. "Sometimes you take risks."
In the interim the club will try to find the answer within because, unlike last year when the team had room under the salary cap for the in-season signings of forwards Jairo Arrieta and Higuaín, there are limited resources.
Candidates include Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram, Speas and dark horse Bernardo Añor.