After 11 seasons in MLS, Columbus Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven has retired from professional soccer, the club announced Thursday.
The announcement comes just six days after the veteran's 27th birthday, and five months after an ACL tear Gaven suffered on May 29. Gaven had played every minute of the Crew's first 10 games of 2013 before the season-ending injury and started more than 24 games in each of his seven seasons with the club.
Despite the ACL tear, Gaven says his retirement is for personal reasons, and that this was a decision he had been considering for some time.
“For personal reasons, I will be retiring from professional soccer,” Gaven said in a statement. “I realize this may come as a surprise, but it is something I have been contemplating for some time, and after discussing it thoroughly with my family, I know in my heart that now is the right time to start the next chapter in my life.”
The 27-year-old concludes an impressive career that includes 278 appearances, 51 goals and 37 assists in league play with Columbus and the MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls). He also earned several caps for the US national team and represented his country at several youth international levels.
The New Jersey native was selected for US Soccer's Bradenton residency program at the Under-17 level, and soon became the youngest player in MLS history when he joined New York in 2003. He also set club records that season as the youngest player to score and provide an assist.
“I remember Eddie Gaven signing as a 16-year-old in New York and the immediate impact that he had on the league. We were very fortunate to acquire him, and he’s been a rock for this club,” said Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers in a press release. “He’s been someone we can rely on – a go-to guy who has been integral since his arrival. This is a big loss for us, but I can also understand that Eddie has been doing this for ten years now.”
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A versatile, hard-working player capable of filling multiple roles in midfield or even up top, Gaven was named to the MLS Best XI in 2004 as a 17-year-old and blossomed into an ironman upon his arrival in Columbus in 2006. He helped the Crew win the 2008 and 2009 Supporters’ Shields and MLS Cup 2008, and his 209 appearances, 198 starts and 17,252 minutes of regular-season action all rank third on the club’s all-time list.
“I would like to thank my teammates, the Crew organization and the fans for all their support over the years,” Gaven's statement read. “I will always cherish the memories, especially winning MLS Cup in 2008. I am incredibly blessed to have been a professional soccer player and am extremely grateful to MLS and the Crew for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream. I wish the Crew nothing but the best moving forward. Thank you.”