For Columbus Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven, fitness is a race against the clock
OBETZ, Ohio — Missing last week's match at Vancouver because of a right ankle sprain was bad enough for Columbus Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven. But having to miss Saturday's match against San Jose in Crew Stadium (5:30 pm ET; MLS Live) would add more insult to his injury, and snap a streak that he’s particularly proud of.
Gaven, it turns out, is the only Crew player to start every home opener since he joined the team from the MetroStars in 2006.
"It's tough being hurt, obviously, and because it's our first game at home and finally having our fans cheering us on, that would be worse," he told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. "Hopefully I'll be back to full training by the end of the week. That's my goal right now."
He’s got a ways to go. Gaven watched from the sideline on a cold, windy and wet Tuesday morning as the rest of the team resumed practicing following the season-opening trip that saw the Crew beat Chivas USA 3-0 before losing 2-1 at Vancouver last Saturday.
Head coach Robert Warzycha said the elements played a role in keeping Gaven from training.
"He was ready to practice but [the trainers] didn't want him to practice on the soggy field," Warzycha said.
Gaven's status for Wednesday's session at Crew Stadium is also in doubt.
"It's trying to be smart with it," Gaven said. "I haven't done anything on it the past three or four days. It doesn't make sense on a very wet field to be running and cutting."
Warzycha's unwritten rule is that if a player is unable to practice on Thursday when an 11-v-11 scrimmage is usually held, then he won't play.
"If he gets out there the next two days, possibly he will play [Saturday]," Warzycha said.
Gaven, who tied Jairo Arrieta for the team lead with nine goals last season, injured his ankle Wednesday during training at the Home Depot Center practice fields.
"I rolled it. I came down on it weird," he said. "I could barely even walk on it. It's been a lot better since. It's moving in the right direction. I did some rehab work today and it felt good."
He was sent back to Columbus on Thursday while the team went to Vancouver. His string of 38 straight starts since October 2011 ended and he's also surpassed the 70 minutes he sat all of last season.
If Gaven can't go, second-year Homegrown midfielder Ben Speas might get the start on the left side again. Speas made his second career start vs. the Whitecaps and got his first career assist, setting up Arrieta.
"It's nice to get a point," he said. "I'd rather have the other kid of point [a tie] but I was happy I was able to contribute."