COLUMBUS – The question of what happened to Eddie Gaven was answered with emphatically with a fortuitous bounce and a laser strike.
Gaven had been among the silent majority this season in Columbus, as the Crew scored only four goals through five games. He wasn’t drawing fouls or taking shots, and he was pulled in the second half of a loss to New York on April 7.
But he responded Saturday with his first two goals of the season, as the Crew tied Houston 2-2 to end a two-game losing streak.
His first score in the 63rd minute came off a series of misplays and crazy bounces that put the ball at his feet inside the penalty area. It countered a goal by Will Bruin that gave Houston the lead four minutes earlier.
“It was kind of a bang-bang play with their goalkeeper and the ball just kind of just popped out to me,” Gaven said. “It might have hit off their guy’s shin as it trickled in, but it was just nice to see the ball cross the line.”
The second score 11 minutes later put the Crew ahead and was a blistering drive off his unnatural left foot from 22 yards that gave goalkeeper Tally Hall no chance. It was destined to be the winner until Brian Ching got the equalizer in the 81st minute.
“Goals can come in many shapes and sizes and different ways,” Gaven said. “It doesn’t matter how. It just matters that the ball went in.”
Gaven’s success epitomized a revamped team that showed more grit than a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia in the previous outing.
“Eddie is very important in this team,” defender Sebastian Miranda said. “When he is level, you can see it. The team needs Eddie. Today was good for him. When he plays good, the team also plays good.”
Defenders Nemanja Vukovic and Josh Williams made his first MLS starts and Vukovic earned his first assist on Gaven’s second goal, as did reserve forward Aaron Schonfeld.
Midfielder Danny O’Rourke returned from a three-game absence due to injury and Tony Tchani played the flanks instead of center midfield.
“Coming back from being down 1-0 we showed a lot of character and scored two goals and I think we played pretty good soccer tonight,” coach Robert Warzycha said.