COLUMBUS – Crew coach Robert Warzycha says Eddie Gaven has a “motor” running up and down the flanks.
But sometimes even a machine needs to be turned off and that’s exactly what the midfielder did with his free time during the league's World Cup break.
The Crew had the week of June 7 off and Gaven used the time to return to his native New Jersey to relax and reconnect with family and friends.
“I went to the Jersey shore, tried to swim in the ocean,” he said. “It was like 58 degrees but I still went in.
“I had some awesome Jersey pizza as well, which I try to get every time I get home,” he added. “Nothing compares to the pizza in Jersey, nothing on this planet.”
He earned the break as much as anybody. His 964 minutes trail team leader Brian Carroll by three and the pair are the only field players to start all 11 matches.
Gaven’s motor has been running since being invited to the U.S. training camp at the beginning of the year. That’s why he relished a brief respite from the game.
“I’ve been going non-stop since the first week in January,” he said. “It was good to get one week totally off and not play soccer or even think about soccer. I knew when we came back we’d have two full weeks to get back anything we might have lost. I feel great right now.”
He returned to Columbus with a fresh attitude and look. Gone was the shaggy mane and scruffy beard.
Actually, he had been thinking about a makeover since an incident last month when he was supposed to appear on the weekly “Crew Xtra” TV show. When he arrived at the studio, the front door was locked so he went roaming around the building looking for an entrance.
Apparently someone looking like the Unabomber wearing a hoodie attracted the attention of the security department and Columbus police were called to investigate. After Gaven produced identification he was allowed inside.
“Once that happened I kind of knew it was time to do something,” he said regarding his appearance.
Still, he didn’t get sheared until a higher authority than the police intervened.
“My wife (Paula) kept on hounding me,” Gaven said. “My hair was in my eyes and my beard was about three or four inches from my face.”
He was one of many Crew players who returned from their sabbaticals well groomed, but none said it had anything to do with trying to change the team’s luck. A 6-0-2 start was quickly forgotten because of two losses and a tie heading into the break.
“When we were 6-0-2 people were saying something was wrong because we were not playing good,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “Now that we’ve played pretty good the last three games and didn’t the results they say something is wrong, too. There’s always going to be something wrong until we win the championship.”
Don’t expect major personnel or tactical changes when the Crew hosts D.C. United on Saturday. Individual mistakes cost the Crew points in its past two games – a 2-2 tie at San Jose and 1-0 away loss to Colorado.
In each match a late restart was the difference as a Crew player was caught ball watching.
“It’s not like Colorado had five chances against our goalkeeper,” Warzycha said. “Somebody fell asleep during a free kick. You can’t blame the whole defense for what happened in that game. The same thing happened at San Jose. Somebody fell asleep at the end of the game on a free kick.”
Injured right back Frankie Hejduk is not expected to play but backliner Danny O’Rourke should be available for the first time in four games and could solidify the defense.
At the other end, the Crew has been blanked in two of the past three games and continues to struggle with finishing chances.
“We don’t need to do anything huge,” Gaven said. “It’s that little bit extra of sharpness, particularly at the end of the game, that we need.”