Columbus Crew's Federico Higuain: MLS in Copa Libertadores would be "step forward"
Earlier this week, a report from South America indicated that CONMEBOL was pushing for the participation of MLS clubs in the Copa Libertadores with a target date of 2015.
One of the most prominent South American figures in MLS thinks it's a fantastic idea.
"I think it would be very important for MLS," Columbus Crew playmaker Federico Higuaín told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. "Competing against teams that have a long history would be a step forward. … I think when you compete, you get better and even moreso when you're able to compete against an entire continent and against different styles of soccer and different ways of living the sport. It can help all of us get better."
The skeptics that the travel would be prohibitive, but Higuaín is practical: "If you want to achieve things, unfortunately you have to make an extra effort for them. … For us, teams from the USA, it would be big trip, but it'd be the same for the South Americans traveling here."
WATCH: Rosales, Espindola on Copa Lib
Then there is the minor detail that an MLS club has yet to win a title in the CONCACAF region. How can they possibly entertain playing in the top South American tournament against the best clubs from places like Brazil and Argentina?
But Higuaín, who is Argentine and has played for some of the big clubs in his native country, believes that it's not about winning. It's about competing.
"It's something my dad told me and something I tell my son: Whoever competes the most will play the best," Higuaín said. "Whoever competes most will learn the most. Whoever competes the most will give themselves the best chance to win a World Cup. It's always important to compete because it serves you for the next day and the next game.
"I see it as a step forward to compete against teams from CONMEBOL, irrespective of whether an MLS team can win CONCACAF or not."
WATCH: Can MLS clubs thrive in Copa Lib?
Although Higuaín has never played in the Copa Libertadores himself — he appeared in one match for Independiente in the Copa Sudamericana — the Crew talisman believes that MLS clubs wouldn't be out of their depths.
"In soccer today, everyone is competitive all around the world and it's the same in the Copa Libertadores," he said. "Everything has become much more even and more physical. It's less about technique and ability, but more about the physical side and that has evened the playing field.
"Yes, I think any team can beat any other team. And for me it would be something beautiful [for MLS clubs to be in Libertadores] and it would be important for MLS that it happen."