OBETZ, Ohio – To outsiders, it may seem like Jairo Arrieta just popped onto the scene to score a pair of goals in just his third match last Saturday at Sporting Kansas City.
But in an interview with MLSsoccer.com this week, the Costa Rican forward said the genesis for his success was a brief training period with the Crew in early June – including a Reserve League match – before returning home for 10 days to bring his family back to Columbus fulltime the last week of the month.
By the time Arrieta became eligible when the international transfer window opened June 27, he already had a feel for his new team and city.
“It helped a lot,” he said through an interpreter. “It allowed me to know the league and the speed of play and get to know my teammates and how they play. When I went back to Costa Rica, I focused on the fitness part and come back here and blended in right away.”
He played another Reserve League game July 2, scoring against New York, and made his MLS debut 12 days later against Sporting Kansas City at Crew Stadium.
In the interim, he settled his wife and young daughter into their new home in suburban Columbus, although the move from a hotel was delayed for several days after power was knocked out in their neighborhood following a storm on June 30.
Again, his first trip to Columbus was beneficial because he took care of the housing arrangement before returning to his native country.
“That also helped because I was able to find a place to live,” Arrieta said. “We didn’t go right way to the house because of the blackout, but at least we knew when we were going to leave and we found a school for the child and could get acclimated.”
The Crew can only hope new Designated Player Federico Higuaín can make the adjustment as well as Arrieta.
Higuaín, whose signing was announced last Friday, may arrive from Argentina late next week and debut either Aug. 11 vs. Toronto FC or more likely four days later against LA.
In e-mail answers to questions from MLSsoccer.com that were translated into English by the Crew this week, Higuaín said he is fit.
“With my last club [Atlético Colón], I have been able to do all the physical work in preseason and I was able to play in a friendly match,” he said. “I am currently working with my personal trainer to maintain everything that I have achieved in the preparatory phase so I can adapt quickly with the Crew.”
He is anxious to show Columbus what he can do.
“I am comfortable playing free across the whole front of the attack as an organizer or accompanying as a second forward,” he said. “I love football and to be able to experience it in the United States fills me with ambition.”