Gaven enjoying 'national' exposure

by two years -- the youngest player currently in the national team pool, and last Sunday he became the fourth youngest ever to be capped by the U.S.

"It was very cool," the well-spoken Gaven said following a training session with the MetroStars. "It was a lot of fun. There were like 40,000 fans in the stands. (39,529 to be exact)."

Prior to the match, a friendly against 2002 World Cup opponent Poland, U.S. manager Bruce Arena told Gaven he would make every effort to get him on the field, but that the top priority was to take a victory in the final match ahead of the semifinal phase of World Cup qualifying.

"We were losing, so I wasn't sure if I would get in," Gaven said. "He ended up putting me in there anyway."

A master at finding small bits of key playing time for his youngsters, Arena sent Gaven on in place of Kerry Zavagnin in the 82nd minute with Poland holding a 1-0 lead. Six minutes later, Carlos Bocanegra finished a Landon Donovan corner kick to level the match.

"It was cool to be on the field when we tied it," Gaven said, adding that by his own estimation he had about five or six good touches during his eight minutes plus stoppage time.

Gaven said he could tell immediately upon entering camp with the national selection that the game moved that much faster than the MLS level -- which he is just now fully adjusting to.

"I mean, it's not like it goes so fast that I can't handle it," he said. "But if you just switch it off for a second, you're going to pay for it."

When the day was done and Gaven headed back to New Jersey, Arena complimented him on a job well done and told him there remains a chance of being recalled for one or more of the qualifiers.

"He said I did well for the week and that he would definitely be checking my progress in MLS," Gaven said.

Dan Lauletta is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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