COLUMBUS – Newcomer Federico Higuain has assisted on a goal by Eddie Gaven in each of his first two games, including Wednesday’s 2-1 victory against Toronto FC. That is great news not only for Gaven -- his sixth goal of the season took him past last year's total -- but also for the Columbus Crew.
Because when Gaven scores, the Crew win. They are unbeaten (19-0-4) since Oct. 13, 2007, in matches when Gaven has scored, and they have lost only once in the 31 games (23-1-7) he has scored for the Crew since his first goal on July 4, 2006. The lone defeat came against FC Dallas on Oct. 6, 2007.
“I think it’s dumb luck more than anything,” he said after Wednesday's match, squashing any notion of being the team's talisman.
Manager Robert Warzycha might disagree. He explains why the 25-year-old midfielder is a fixture in the lineup without reservation.
“You don’t have to tell Eddie to go be aggressive,” Warzycha said in the postgame press conference. “The guy’s running from box-to-box every single game. For him, it’s never going to change. We love him for what he does on the field. He’s everywhere.”
Highlights: Columbus 2, Toronto 1
Reporters looking for some explanation for Gaven’s unbeaten streak kept probing. Could it be because of his bushy facial hair that he has been nicknamed Frank?
“It could be the beard but I didn’t always have the beard,” Gaven said. “Four or five years ago I don’t know if I was sporting a beard back then.”
In the two games since Higuain joined the Crew (9-8-6, 33 points) after his arrival from Argentina, the Crew have scored four goals: two against Toronto and two in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Houston.
It is only the second time this season they have scored twice in back-to-back games, matching a 2-0 win over Seattle on May 23 which was followed by a 2-1 victory vs. Chicago three days later.
However, they have yet to score more than two goals this season. Higuain, who set up Gaven’s 4th-minute goal vs. Toronto and later scored his first MLS goal, might be the key to changing that.
“We needed a forward like [Federico] and also like Jairo [Arrieta],” midfielder Milovan Mirosevic said afterward. “I think Jairo has been very, very good. He’s been holding the balls that we surely didn’t in the first games of the season. With those two guys in front, they have provided a lot of quality.”
Higuain told the media that opening his scoring account didn’t relieve the pressure he puts on himself.
“That’s the way I am,” he said through a translator. “The Crew brought me here to score goals and help the team win games from the offensive end of the field. The only thing I can promise is a lot of work, a lot of effort. The team still needs to know me better.”