COLUMBUS, Ohio – Crew president Mark McCullers anticipates new Designated Player Federico Higuaín will make a big difference on the field with his skill and creativity.
He does know that finally having the Argentine forward in Ohio as of Wednesday, nearly three weeks after his July 27 signing, has already made an impact.
McCullers was thinking of what has transpired since the deal was brokered just moments before introducing his newest player to the media on Thursday at Crew Stadium.
The team and staff have been going through a range of emotions since the sudden death of rookie midfielder Kirk Urso on Aug. 5, and the tears far outnumbered the smiles even as the team honored his memory with a moving tribute prior to Wednesday’s 1-1 tie with the LA Galaxy.
WATCH: Federico Higuaín highlights
“I thought about that as I was preparing my remarks,” McCullers told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “We need something good to happen for us. This is something good for the organization and the team on the field.
“It’s an opportunity for us to start feeling really good about things in the organization after the adversity we’ve faced.”
Higuaín understands that he has joined the team at a difficult time.
“Of course, it’s not an ideal situation to be in, but I will try to do whatever the team needs me to do to carry on from here,” he said in an interview following the press conference.
McCullers hesitated to call the 27-year-old Higuaín a savior for the franchise, but neither he nor technical director Brian Bliss shied away from comparing him to another Argentine who's had a profound impact on the Crew: Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
Schelotto was in his early 30s when he joined the team in 2007 and was the league and MLS Cup MVP the following season when the team won their only championship to date. He stayed in Columbus through the 2010 season.
“[Federico] does a lot of things Guillermo did in his prime when he was in his late 20s,” Bliss said.
The Columbus technical director likes Higuaín’s technical ability and passing but doesn’t expect him to set any goal records.
“Scoring goals is a bonus in terms of what he does,” Bliss said. “That’s why we used the terms, ‘He’s going to chip a few in,’ or, ‘He’s going to contribute.’ He’s not going to be a prolific goalscorer. That’s not who he is.”
Higuaín talked to Schelotto about the Crew and the city last week as he waited for immigration issues to be resolved so he could leave Argentina.
“We spoke about the city and how nice it is, how quiet it is. It is a family city,” Higuaín said through a translator. “It’s nice when people compare me to Guillermo, the kind of player he was, but I play different. I hope to have the same success Guillermo had here.”
If Higuaín doesn’t debut Sunday at Houston it will likely be Wednesday Aug. 22 at home vs. Toronto FC.