COLUMBUS, Ohio – Even though Federico Higuaín hasn’t scored or logged an assist over the past six games after an electrifying start to his MLS career, his Columbus Crew teammates aren’t close to giving up on their new star.
“He’s still out there working as hard as he was when he first came,” Crew captain Chad Marshall said. “I’m sure teams are game-planning against him more to try and limit his touches. It’s just a matter of time for him.”
Higuaín (above) set a high standard when he first debuted in the second half of the match at Houston on Aug. 19. He had an assist in the tie with the Dynamo and then added five more assists and three goals over the next four games, leading the Crew to a 4-0-1 record.
Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha said he is happy with Higuaín’s play, although he feels a right foot injury incurred Aug. 29 at Philadelphia has been a hindrance.
WATCH: Higuaín's free kick goal vs. Revs
“He’s making the players around him better,” Warzycha said. "That’s good enough for me."
Midfielder Eddie Gaven agrees. He’s scored eight goals this year, tying his season high first set in 2005 with New York. Higuaín assisted on three of Gaven’s goals in his short time with the club.
“He’s still been very, very good for us, even if he hasn’t been getting the points, in terms of his passing and how he opens up space for the other guys, myself included,” Gaven said.
Warzycha goes as far as to say the “entire team” has benefitted from Higuaín just being on the field, even though the Crew are 2-3-1 in the past six games.
“We’re a better possession team,” Warzycha said. “He absorbs more players when he holds the ball, giving the right passes at the right time with the right weight. He makes it easier for the other players.”
Still, Columbus (14-11-7, 49 points) will need Higuaín to step up over the final two games, as they trail Houston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Even though things might not be showing up on the score sheet per se, he’s still been very effective,” Gaven said. “If he keeps playing the way he is and we keep trying to find him in good areas on the field, he’s going to start getting goals and assists.
“That’s not anything the team is worried about.”
Craig Merz covers the Columbus Crew for MLSsoccer.com.