Starting the first match of his eighth season with the Crew last Saturday against Chivas USA, Eddie Gaven made his 200th regular season appearance for the Black & Gold. The 26-year-old veteran joins Chad Marshall, Mike Clark and Jeff Cunningham as the only players to appear 200 times for Crew in the club's 18 year history. Since joining the Black & Gold in 2006, Gaven has scored 30 goals and tallied 22 assists in his 200 appearances to help the club to two Supporters' Shields and the 2008 MLS Cup.
"It's a huge honor," Gaven said. "I'm very, very thankful for the past seven years that I've been able to play for the Crew. It's been awesome. I've been able to play with some incredible teammates and was able to win an MLS Championship in 2008. I'm very thankful for every moment I've had playing for the Crew."
"This just further establishes Eddie Gaven as part of the history of this organization," Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers said of the veteran. "He's been an anchor, a rock and all of those other metaphors that have been used to describe him manifest themselves in this milestone."
McCullers continued: "He is the glue that bonds the team. Everybody can't be a flashy player. In fact, we don't need or want everybody to be a flashy player. We need people to fill certain roles. Eddie fills an important role on this team, he is an important cog in the machine that makes us successful."
Growing up in southern New Jersey and playing the first three seasons of his pro career with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, Gaven was unsure of what a change of scenery would bring when he was traded to Columbus at the age of 19 in 2006. The Arch City quickly became home for Gaven thanks to the faithful Crew fans that show up to support the Black & Gold week-in and week-out. The midfielder has since married and started a family in Central Ohio.
"When I first came [to Columbus], to be honest, I wasn't sure quite what to expect," Gaven explained. "Growing up on the East Coast, I thought that Columbus would be like a farm-town. The city has definitely grown on me. It's an awesome city, we have great fans and we has a really good team as well. I think all of those factors combined have made the city home for me."
Gaven became the youngest player in MLS history to play in 250 matches over his career last season, surpassing Kyle Beckerman by almost three-and-a-half years. Having already made 269 League appearances at just 26 years old, Gaven could eventually be the League's all-time leader in matches played by an outfield player. Steve Ralston currently holds the mark at 378 appearances.
Always grounded, Gaven isn't getting caught up in looking ahead to the future.
"To be honest, I'm not looking that far into the future," he said. "It's about playing one game at a time and just trying to go out there and focus on winning each game. I'm not looking too hard at where I'm going to be when I'm 30 or anything like that.
"It's all about playing right now with this team, trying to help this team grow and get back to MLS Cup. That's how I look at it."