The Crew ended a two match losing streak with its 2-2 draw Saturday behind Eddie Gaven's brace. Here are three things to take from the Crew's first draw of 2012:
1. Fear the Beard
Crew veteran Eddie Gaven had been largely invisible in the Black & Gold's attack against New York and Philadelphia, but the 25-year-old had a breakout showing against the Dynamo as he was a key component in creating chances for Columbus.
Gaven's hard work paid off in the 63rd minute as he knocked a botched Dynamo clearance past goalkeeper Tally Hall. The Bearded One was rewarded again 11 minutes later as Nemanja Vukovic's cross was chested down by Aaron Schoenfeld right to Gaven's feet. Gaven blasted the left-footed one-timer past Hall to give the Crew a 2-1 advantage. It was Gaven's first multi-goal match since joining Columbus in 2006, and the fourth brace of his career.
If Gaven can build off his performance Saturday against one of MLS's best back lines, the Crew's attacking problems may be solved.
2. Midfield Shuffle Pays Off
Last week, Gaven noted that he previously wasn't getting the ball in the right spots to be effective enough in the attack. Robert Warzycha went with a new-look midfield against the Dynamo, inserting a healthy Danny O'Rourke into the holding midfield role and starting Tony Tchani on the right side.
O'Rourke's presence in the central midfield allowed Milovan Mirosevic to play more attack-oriented soccer and distribute more to Gaven on the left wing.
The map on the left displays Eddie Gaven's possession, distribution, and shots against Philadelphia compared to Houston on the right. As you can see, Gaven was much more involved in the final third on Saturday.
Overall, the Crew managed 18 shots against Houston compared to the club's average of just under 13 shots per game heading into Saturday's match.
3. Vukovic and Williams Make First Career Starts
In addition to the changes in the midfield, Warzycha also replaced half of his starting defense.
Josh Williams started alongside Chad Marshall in the central defense. In his second full season with the Crew, Williams looked solid against the likes of Will Bruin and Brian Ching in his first MLS start.
Building off his performance as a substitute in Philadelphia, Nemanja Vukovic played a key role in pushing up from the left back spot. The Montenegrin's cross to Aaron Schoenfeld in the 74th minute led to Eddie Gaven's go-ahead volley.
Williams and Vukovic performances display much needed depth to a back line that has been depleted by injuries so far in 2012.
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