The veteran set a career high in goals, but his influence extended beyond the stat sheet.
Eddie Gaven had a fine all around season. He set career highs in games played, minutes, and goals. He stepped up during the early part of the season when the Crew offense was struggling with 4 goals before the midway point. He added 5 more when he was a part the potent attacking trio with Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta.
Gaven, in his 10th season, was once again expected to provide veteran leadership to a team that was still in a state of transition. He responded with 34 games played and led the team in minutes with nearly 3,000. He took up his normal right midfield spot when the season opened, but he would play extensively on the left towards the end of the season, and line up occasionally in the withdrawn center role. While he wouldn't play goalkeeper as he did in 2010, he would even see action at forward.
Early in the season, Gaven would look much like he has in recent years, tucking in and providing assistance to the midfield while trying to get into seams. He would put in two great goals against Houston in April and find the net against Chicago and Salt Lake, but much of his impact was trying to create from the wing and find the team's two strikers.
After the arrival of Arrieta, and especially Higuain, Gaven would change his role slightly. While still on the wing, the runs into the seams now were rewarded more often. He was also pivotal on the new found ability to counterattack. Gaven quickly went on a scoring run of three goals in Higuain's first four games.
Gaven still doesn't possess the supreme athleticism of other players, but he makes up with far better than average soccer intelligence. He rarely makes the wrong pass, but beyond that, he's good at making the right pass. Rarely is he caught with his head down and in possession. He is adept at making the right run or settling into space to be available for a pass. He's a coaches dream.
Final Grade - 7: Gaven's goals may grab the headlines, but he showed he's a perfect fit for a Higuain lead offense with his strong second half.