Gaven, Metros ready for Rapids

E. RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In many ways, Eddie Gaven is just you're average teenager. No second consecutive MLS All-Star bid? That's cool. He's got other plans.

"I'll probably go down to the Shore for a few days, hang out at the beach," he said.

And Gaven deserves a break. He's been busy lately, playing with the United States under-20 national team at the World Youth Championships in the Netherlands in addition to his duties with the MetroStars.

And it's the Metros' upcoming stretch of four games in 11 days that is Gaven's focus right now, not missing out on a chance to play English Premier League side Fulham FC at Columbus Crew Stadium on July 30.

"Obviously every player wants to be an All-Star, it's definitely a great honor and last year I had fun. It's not really like I'm sad about it," he said. "I'm just going to go out and keep playing. We have a pretty rough stretch coming up so I'm just really focused on that."

The first game of that rough stretch is Saturday night at home against the Colorado Rapids. The Metros already beat the Rapids this year, 3-1 on April 30 behind a hat trick by Amado Guevara.

The Rapids are in fourth place in the Western Conference - the Metros are in fourth in the Eastern Conference - but Colorado hasn't played since beating the Kansas City Wizards 2-1 on the Fourth of July to snap a two-game losing streak.

The Rapids are led by striker Jeff Cunningham who, like Gaven, was snubbed for an All-Star bid despite being tied for the league scoring lead with New England's Pat Noonan, and goalkeeper Joe Cannon, one of the top shot stoppers in the league.

"He's quick, strong, a very skillful player," Metros defender Chris Leitch said of Cunningham. "When you think you have him covered, he makes one move and he's by you. He's lightning quick and his finishing has gotten better over the years. We definitely have to watch him and have a couple of guys around him."

The Metros welcome Youri Djorkaeff back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a right hamstring strain. Guevara is questionable with a lower back strain, but he said Friday after practice that he is fine and will start. Mike Magee is questionable with a groin strain while backup keeper Mike Ueltschey (broken finger) and defender Tim Ward (strained left hamstring) are both out.

Colorado will be without defensive midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, who is playing with the U.S. national team in the Gold Cup, forward Jean-Philippe Peguero is serving a red-card suspension and midfielder Matt Crawford (quadriceps strain) and forward Josh Elbaum (hernia) are out with injury.

"They've had a good run. They stick together, Cannon makes saves and they don't give up," Bradley said of Colorado. "You play those kinds of teams, you take nothing for granted. We know how hard they're playing of late and how often they've had their backs against the wall and have hung in."

Dylan Butler 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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