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Gaven announces retirement after an eleven-year career

Eddie Gaven

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Eddie Gaven has decided to hang up his boots.

After an eleven year career that began as a baby-faced 16-year-old with the MetroStars and finished as a grizzled veteran with the Columbus Crew, the now 27-year-old Gaven announced his retirement from professional soccer on Thursday, citing personal reasons.

Gaven’s last match was on May 29, 2013 in a 2-1 victory for the Crew against the Dayton Dutch Lions in the U.S. Open Cup, though he went down with a season-ending knee injury during the match.

“I would like to thank my teammates, the Crew organization and the fans for all their support over the years,” Gaven said in a statement on the Crew’s website. “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. For personal reasons, I will be retiring from professional soccer.

“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.

“I wish the Crew nothing but the best moving forward. Thank you.”

Gaven finishes his time in Columbus with 209 appearances and 17,252 minutes played, good for third on the club’s all time list. In total, Gaven’s stat line reads as follows: 278 games played, of which 260 were starts. 51 goals scored, 37 assists, and zero red cards. His trophy cabinet includes an MLS Cup title and two MLS Supporters Shields, all won with the Crew.

The New Jersey born and bred midfielder made headlines back in 2003 by being the youngest (at the time) player to sign with MLS, at 16 years and two months old, before being selected with the No. 12 pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. Gaven is vividly remembered by long-time MLS fans for the game he scored his first professional goal in, against D.C. United.

Then-MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to bring Gaven in the game as an emergency replacement for then-goalkeeper Tim Howard. Instead, Howard stayed in the game, Gaven came on and switched with Howard after a minute, and then in overtime Gaven went on to score the game-winning-goal.

Gaven lasted just three years with the MetroStars, having been sent as a 19-year-old to the Columbus Crew with defender Chris Leitch in exchange for Edson Buddle in 2006. With the Crew, Gaven would flourish into a two-way midfielder who was a great example to the team on and off the field. Gaven’s best season statistically came in 2012, when he scored nine goals to go with two assists.

While maturing in MLS, Gaven was a key member of the U.S. youth teams, from the side that played at the U-17 World Cup in 2003 to squad that played in the 2005 U-20 World Cup. Though not a regular by any means, Gaven did earn eight caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team between 2004-2010, including appearing in two games at the 2007 Copa America and his final appearance, a 1-0 win in South Africa in November, 2010, where he went the full 90 minutes.


What do you think of this news? Sad to see Gaven go? What stands out to you the most about his career?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Always came away impressed after seeing him in a game. To echo other posters, 11 years at pro soccer is hard on the body. And while he was nearing the end of his soccer career, he has many many other things to look forward to in life, some of which could be hampered by a serious and chronic injury.

    This also gives some perspective for me into Donovan’s “sabbatical”. He is almost 5 yrs older than Gaven and started at roughly the same age, and with loans and USMNT has even more miles. Us fans need to remember these guys are human and there is life after soccer.

    Good luck Eddie.

  2. Great player, great guy (met him a few times at season ticket-holder events) and always a class act on the field.

    Most memorable goal? Probably that first one.

    Most important goal? Against the Fire to send the Crew to the MLS Cup in ’08.

    And don’t forget he won Save of the Week back in 2010 when he took over in goal after Hesmer went down with an injury and they’d used all their subs

    • Very quiet guy and maybe that cost him some opportunites, definitely underrated. I’m wondering if he holds the MLS record for GK appearances for a non-goalie.

  3. This is a shame. Eddie was a special player who was easily getting better as each year went by. I would give an arm and a leg to have him play for dc.

  4. I remember him as an 8 year-old when Eddie who is from Hamilton, NJ was playing against Michael Bradley who was playing for the Princeton Soccer Association at the time. Later, they played together on youth teams and on the Metrostars. Eddie was always very good running at people with the ball. An 11 year career in MLS without a red card, while it is probably not a record, it is notable and says volumes about his personality. Sorry to see him retire.

  5. If he had 11 years of experience after college, we wouldn’t think about a guy retiring at 33 or so. But 11 years takes a toll on the body, even when starting as a teen. Good luck, Eddie.

  6. Congrats Eddie! I always hope these integral cogs in that rebirth in the early to mid 2000s of MLS stay in the league. Be it a technical director, commissioners office, ambassador, scout or youth coach, having lineage and a pedigree can’t hurt the league and it’s academies and development. It kills me as a Timbers fan to not have Clive Charles be alive for this incarnation. Looking to the rafters is always nice but remembering him and winning the NCAA at UP when I went there always brings a welling of pride for me.

    Good luck Eddie!

    • He is 27 and only played in the MLS. While he made decent money (by MLS standards), he has to embark on a new career–he has a wife and kids (I believe he has two now) to take care of.

  7. People forget that some of these teen signings have been playing forever. Gaven was in his 11th year playing pro soccer. If he rehabs his knee he can look forward to another year of MLS. The knee probably forecloses any immediate — and maybe any — European interest, if he had notions. His USMNT chance has passed. He could hang around for a few more paycheck years but some people, like Landon, expressed the preference to go out on top (though he reversed himself), while some, like Ching, played probably a year or two too long. Also, with knee problems I think it’s fair to think about one’s physical future.

    Plus, having spent time at home with the wife and kids may have changed his perspective.

    • Not to be funny but I had the same thought as it’s odd for a 27 year old who just had his best year last year to hang it up after an injury. Either way what a great career and it sucks to go out for personal or health reasons or whatever the case maybe.

  8. Shocked and amazed that he would hang them up so early! Especially after coming off a career year last year!!!

    Achh! I see him coming out of retirement after his knee feels a little better and he realizes how much he misses soccer…. at least I hope so!

  9. Wow. Totally out of left field but it sounds like he’s been thinking about it for a while. Eddie’s definitely one of the mot underrated players this league has seen. Great player and from what you hear, he’s a greater person. I can remember Gaven as baby face teen being thrown into goal for the Metrostars after all the subs were used and the GK (maybe Howard???) was sent off. Gaven wasn’t even scared.

  10. Hanging them up at the age of 27, seem like he still had a number of solid years left. Sad to see him go but it is better to go out on your terms than someone elses


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