Eddie Gaven was in the midst of an interview after practice Monday morning at Giants Stadium when his eyes widened like any other 18-year-old soccer junkie.
"Whoa, David Beckham," Gaven said.
Beckham and the rest of the English national team took the field following the MetroStars practice in preparation of Tuesday's international friendly against Colombia. Gaven and the Metros face Chicago in the nightcap.
With nearly 50,000 tickets pre-sold and a strong walk-up crowd expected, the atmosphere at Giants Stadium will be unlike any of these Metros have ever experienced.
One player who has seen his share of packed stadiums is Youri Djorkaeff, who won a World Cup with France.
"For me, I know what it's like (to play in front of) big crowds but for some players, they've never played in a (full) stadium," he said. "It will be a great experience for everybody."
Gaven, who has scored two goals in the last three MetroStars games, will play without a cumbersome cast to protect his surgically repaired left ring finger.
"After I hurt my finger, it took me a little while to get back in the flow. I think these past games, I think it's just a matter of I've been playing more, getting to know these guys more, getting to know how they play on the field," Gaven said. "That's helped me make better runs off the ball and get better scoring chances and maybe that's why I'm scoring more goals."
That Gaven, who teamed up with speedy rookie Abbe Ibrahim up top in the Metros' 3-0 win at Columbus Saturday, is finding his scoring touch is good news for MetroStars fans.
The bad news is that following Tuesday night's game against Chicago, Gaven is joining the United States Under-20 national team for the FIFA World Youth championships in the Netherlands. Gaven may be joined by teammate Tim Regan as the U.S. takes on Argentina June 11, Germany June 14 and Egypt June 18.
"Obviously, our main goal is to win the whole thing, but in order to do that we have to focus on the first few things and really put a good effort in those games and get out of our group," Gaven said. "If we can go on a little bit of a streak, who knows how far we can go."
Against Chicago, the Metros will be without Tim Ward, who strained his hamstring in a 1-0 loss at Kansas City last Wednesday. Also out is third string 'keeper Mike Ueltschey with a lower abdominal strain and rookie defender Chris Corcoran, who also has a strained hamstring.
Defender Jeff Agoos, who has a hamstring strain, Mark Lisi and Seth Stammler, who each have right ankle contusions are listed as questionable.
But the Metros are, for the most part, healthy in the midfield, which is important because that's where Metros coach Bob Bradley believes the game will be won.
"That's something Chicago has done well over the years," he said of controlling the middle of the park. "It's something we think is important and we've been able, at times, to pressure them and gain an advantage. I think we did a good job of that last time we played at Soldier Field."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.