COLUMBUS, Ohio – Eddie Gaven’s scruffy caveman beard belies that he is still a young in spirit and body, although Sunday will mark the completion of his 10th MLS season at the ripe old age of 26.
On Thursday, Gaven marked his birthday as he does every day at Crew practice, by working hard and giving an honest effort without pretenses.
“What’s different than everybody is he treasures every single day,” Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “He has a very, very positive attitude. He doesn’t have bad days.”
That shouldn’t change anytime soon, either.
“I’m a young 26,” Gaven told MLSsoccer.com this week. “Hopefully, I’ve got another 10 years in me.”
That could be scary for opponents because a decade after debuting with New York he is enjoying his finest season from a personal standpoint.
“It’s crazy,” defender Eric Gehrig said. “I’m two years younger than Eddie and this is my second year [in MLS] like a normal human being.”
With five goals in the past 12 matches, Gaven has bettered by one his previous career-best of eight set in 2005, his final season with New York before being traded to Columbus.
He will attempt to add to the total and possibly break the team lead he shares with Jairo Arrieta when the Crew host Toronto FC in the season finale on Sunday.
It’s a long way from being the youngest New York player to score (16 years, 232 days) – and the second-youngest in league history – when he grabbed the winner vs. D.C. United on July 5, 2003.
“Everybody thinks when they’re 16 that they can play forever,” Gaven said. “As you get older, you realize it’s hard to stay at a high level. It’s also hard to stay healthy as well. I’ve been very blessed this year not to get hurt, nothing too major.
“Being able to play soccer for a living and go out and run around, I’m thankful for every single minute and hope I can play as long as my body let’s me.”
Gaven shows no signs of slowing down, starting all 33 games this season and leading the club with 2,900 minutes.
As for Gaven’s recent goal surge, he credits the midseason additions of forwards Federico Higuaín and Arrieta for making his job easier.
“They’ve made a huge difference,” Gaven said. “Those guys gave teams a lot more to worry about which created some more room for me to get time and space on the field. I’m very excited to see what happens when we have one full year together.”
Warzycha believes Gaven’s season warrants another try with the US national team under coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Gaven has eight caps, the last coming three years ago when Bob Bradley was in charge.
“Jurgen has to give him a chance because Eddie works so hard,” Warzycha said. “As a coach, you want a player that will play for you and give 100 percent every single day.”