Bringing Federico Higuaín to MLS was no easy task for the Columbus Crew.
But after months of traveling back-and-forth to Argentina and plenty of negotiations, Robert Warzycha, Brian Bliss & Co. landed the Designated Player they had promised to their fans, and the man who drew comparisons to Crew legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto did not disappoint.
In his three months with Columbus, Higuaín led the Crew back into playoff contention, most notably keying a 4-0-2 run in August that earned him the Week 25 Player of the Week award and consideration for August Player of the Month. And that form is no small part as to why he has now added another award to his collection: 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year.
Though the Crew eventually faded down the stretch, Higuaín proved to be one of the signings of the season, beating out the likes of Víctor Bernárdez and Boniek García thanks to his scintillating displays spearheading the Crew attack. In just 1,004 minutes of play, he tallied five goals and seven assists while demonstrating considerable prowess on set pieces, which should give the Crew plenty of hope for his first full season in 2013.
San Jose's massive center back Víctor Bernárdez came in second place after leading the Earthquakes backline in his first season in MLS. Although hindered by injuries midseason, the Honduran international proved vital to the Quakes' run to the Supporters' Shield, and even contributed two goals and an assist.
In third place was Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who ably replaced Kasey Keller in the Sounders net, leading the league in goals-against average (0.73).
The numbers show a decided difference of opinion between the media and the players. Whereas Higuain's goals and attacking flair clearly thrilled the press, Bernardez earned a much larger percentage of the players' votes. In fact, the players were much more enamored of defenders, as 4th-place Young-Pyo Lee, outside back from the Vancouver Whitecaps, picked up the second-largest percentage of the players' votes.
|NEWCOMER||% Club Votes||% Media Votes||% Player Votes||WEIGHTED TOTAL|
|1. Federico Higuain (CLB)||17.24||30.77||10.99||59.00|
|2. Victor Bernardez (SJ)||18.97||9.23||23.08||51.28|
|3. Michael Gspurning (SEA)||15.52||10.77||5.49||31.78|
|4. Young-Pyo Lee (VAN)||6.90||4.61||14.29||25.80|
|5. Boniek Garcia (HOU)||12.1||4.61||7.69||24.40|
MLS Newcomer of the Year Winners:
2012: Federico Higuaín – Columbus Crew
2011: Mauro Rosales – Seattle Sounders FC
2010: Álvaro Saborío – Real Salt Lake
2009: Fredy Montero – Seattle Sounders FC
2008: Darren Huckerby – San Jose Earthquakes
2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United