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Down, But Not Out

 Posted by on June 4, 2013 at 10:13 pm  Blogs/Media, Columbus Crew, MLS, United States
Jun 042013

Look, I get it: We all love Eddie Gaven.

He’s a hard working motherbear who never complains and never says the wrong thing. He’s the guy you want next to you in a foxhole. He fits the mold of the cliche perfect teammate.

But his season-ending ACL tear is not the end of the world.

Quick Tangent: It bothers me A LOT when people speak with a sad/grieving tone about athletes who tear their ACL. They aren’t dying. They aren’t dead. They WILL walk again. Too many people in the world are truly worthy of our sympathy and not one of them plays pro sports. 

Yes, Eddie scored nine goals last season and set up twice as many. You could even make the case that Columbus doesn’t advance in the US Open Cup against Dayton without him. But he is not a goalscorer or even a true “trequartista” playmaker like Guillermo. He wasn’t going to reach 10 goals or 10 assists this season and he probably would’ve been lucky to notch half of those numbers. His job was to advance the ball up the wing and open up space in the middle for Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain to run wild.

His was a very replaceable role.

In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that his injury can HELP the Crew long term. With Gaven out, suddenly both wide midfield positions are open for auditions.

(Actually this assumes Robert Warzycha won’t continue trotting out a 4-4-1-1 with Oduro as a wide midfielder…which is probably what we’ll wind up seeing for the rest of the season.)

Justin Meram, Ben Speas, Ethan Finlay, and even Bernardo Anor are all talented young players who need regular first team minutes to achieve their potential. Think about how much more dangerous Arrieta and Oduro can be when teams have to face the prospect of containing both Meram and Speas at the same time. Both are natural wide midfielders with pace and solid dribbling skills. Finlay is even faster than those two and Anor’s left foot is sorely needed in the attack so that Tyson Wahl can stay home and defend.

Just imagine what this team could (potentially) trot out…

Barson – Williams – Glauber – Wahl


Meram (Finlay) – Speas (Anor)


Arrieta – Oduro

Suddenly “the goals will come” is no longer a hollow bumper stick for the future; it’s very much real. This is a lineup that can spend the rest of this season gelling and preparing for an actual Eastern Conference run in 2014, but without fielding a dull team incapable of entertaining the masses of Columbus even in defeat.

Of course, this would require tactical flexibility from Warzycha, or perhaps even his outright dismissal. The point is that Eddie Gaven’s injury has opened up more opportunities than setbacks. Let’s hope the organization can take advantage.

Adam Uthe

VP of Content Development for GFT and proud supporter of Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool FC (EPL). @AUtheGFT

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