COLUMBUS, Ohio – Heading into last Saturday's match against the New York Red Bulls, the Columbus Crew's Designated Player and team captain Federico Higuain had not scored a goal from the run of play in more than five months.
In the Crew's 2013 MLS opener against Chivas USA, he hit a bending shot from outside the penalty area that soared past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy for what seemed likely to be one of the season's best for Columbus. But last Saturday at Crew Stadium, Higuain made his last goal from the field look easy, as he chipped New York goalkeeper Luis Robles from even longer distance, earning him his second goal of the match and an AT&T Goal of the Week nomination – as well as a 2-0 victory.
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"It must be among the best ones [I've ever scored]," Higuain told reporters through an interpreter on Thursday after training at Crew Stadium. "I scored a similar one in the past, but because of the situation, because of our need to win, because of some of the other circumstances and how the game was playing out, it's really got to be up there near the top. But it was very important after a run of games where we were not able to find a win."
The long-range effort was the Argentine's second goal of the game, and seventh on the year. The match's first goal came when Higuain beat Robles from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute. It was the third time he had faced Robles from the spot, and Higuain said, laughing, that he doesn't look forward to seeing the New York 'keeper from that vantage point again.
After losing six of their last seven games and building a reputation for throwing away games in the final minutes, Higuain's goal in the 76th minute was not only a classy finish, but an important moment for the team.
"It was an incredible goal," midfielder Bernardo Añor told reporters. "It was a beautiful finish. He was practicing some of those shots the day before, so he kind of got a good touch of the ball and was making them most of the time. He's such a great finisher, and I think it was very relieving for us, winning 1-0, [after the goal] the game was a little more calm and we got in control of the game."
Despite the impact of Higuain's goal, the Designated Player says he can't take sole credit for sparking the team's improved attack against New York.
"It goes back to what I always say, the team needs me as much as it needs the goalie, as much as it needs the defenders, and as much as it needs the strikers," he emphasized. "Everyone has to bring in their share of the work, and it depends on everyone to get the win."