The Columbus Crew are rolling, and it's got a great deal to do with red-hot playmaker Federico Higuaín.
For the second straight week, Higuaín has earned the North American Soccer Reporters vote as the Player of the Week for Week 26 (see who and how the media voted here).
The Argentine started his MLS career with a bang last month and has maintained that momentum in a big way. After earning last week's award with three goals and an assist in two Columbus victories, Higuaín set up all four of the Crew's goals this week in their brace of 2-1 wins over Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia and Montreal. Robert Warzycha's men have now won four in a row.
And it's not just the quantity of his contributions, it's their quality – and timeliness. Higuaín's reliable delivery has made the Crew's big bodies a constant threat on set pieces again, and he's proved capable of performing in the clutch, popping up with an injury-time feed to Emilio Rentería for the late, late winner in Saturday's comeback defeat of the Impact.
As a result, Columbus have vaulted ahead of D.C. United and taken possession of the East's fifth and final playoff spot, and have some observers branding them as dark-horse MLS Cup contenders.
“[Higuaín] brings that energy, that class,” captain Chad Marshall told MLSsoccer.com after the win over the Union. “He’s a proven goalscorer, but even when he’s not scoring, he’s setting people up.”
2012 MLS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Week 26: Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew)
Week 25: Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew)
Week 24: David Ferriera (FC Dallas)
Week 23: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Week 22: Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
Week 21: Jairo Arrieta (Columbus Crew)
Week 20: Calen Carr (Houston Dynamo)
Week 19: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 18: Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake)
Week 17: Danny Koevermans (Toronto FC)
Week 16: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Week 13-15: Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact)
Week 12: Emilio Rentería (Columbus Crew)
Week 11: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
Week 10: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)
Week 9: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 8: Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 7: Chris Pontius (D.C. United)
Week 6: Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA)
Week 5: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Week 4: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Week 3: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Week 2: David Estrada (Seattle Sounders)
Week 1: Kalif Alhassan (Portland Timbers)