COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew won their third-round match of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-1 win against the USL PRO's Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday at Crew Stadium, but it may exact a heavy cost.
Midfielder Eddie Gaven, who scored in the 52nd minute to give the Crew the lead then set up the game-winning tally by Justin Meram in the 84th, suffered a lower left leg injury a minute later and was stretchered off the field after being tackled.
The team had no update after the game but a spokesman said Gaven will be examined on Thursday. Gaven came through the locker room after the match on crutches but was unavailable for comment.
"Eddie's the heart and soul of this team," defender Eric Gehrig said. "I'm hoping and praying he's all right."
Gaven tied Jairo Arrieta for the team lead last season with nine goals, but has none this season in 10 league matches. Despite missing two games due to injury, he still leads MLS with 38 fouls suffered.
He was the pivotal player throughout Wednesday's match, as his run onto a ball by Federico Higuaín drew a red card on a tackle by Brock Granger in the 14th minute.
Dayton held steady but Gaven finally broke through thanks to a long lob from Higuain. Gaven chested the ball down, then fired from the right post across the goalmouth and into the left side netting.
Meram took a pass from Gaven and curled the ball into the goal from 23 yards out for the game-winner after Dayton equalized.
"He's the face of the organization, one of the best players here," Meram said of Gaven. "It's certainly a disappointment."