OBETZ, Ohio – When Sporting Kansas City host the Columbus Crew on Saturday (8:30 pm ET; MLS Live), the home team will be short some star power, with both Graham Zusi and Matt Besler on national team duty.
The Columbus Crew are fortunate enough to have the opposite situation.
That's because captain and Designated Player Federico Higuaín returns from a two-game suspension, his first missed MLS matches since he joined the club in August of 2012.
It will be interim head coach Brian Bliss’ first match with Higuaín available, and he likes what he’s seen from the Argentinean playmaker in the meantime.
“He trained very well this week,” Bliss said after the team’s training session Friday. “His attitude was fantastic, and his hunger and his desire to get in on the game and be on the ball was very good.”
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Higuaín’s busy week in practice seemed to highlight his desire to get back on the field, where he said he is adapting to the Crew’s coaching change and that he’s looking forward to playing under Bliss.
“I’m feeling good, and I’m hungry to come back to the lineup and provide for the team,” he said through a translator before the team left for Kansas City. “It’s a short period of time to adjust, but I wish Brian the best because thanks to him a number of us are here on the team. I think he’s done a great job so far, and hopefully we’ll adjust quickly.”
Though Higuaín saw a variety of responsibilities on the field under former head coach Robert Warzycha, Bliss said his role won’t change too much from what Columbus fans are accustomed to.
“He does what he does,” Bliss said. “It’s more of a central role, it’s underneath, it’s creating, but also being a leader and being on the ball and wanting the ball in tough moments. That’s what he’s there for and what he gets paid to do and that’s what we expect from him.”
The Crew nearly lost another large part of the spine of their team in Wednesday’s match against the Houston Dynamo when midfielder Wil Trapp went down with an apparent knee injury.
After an MRI came back negative Thursday, Trapp seemed to be at full speed in Friday’s training. Bliss said that he was “moving and striking the ball fine” but did not confirm his status for the weekend.
Andrew King covers the Crew for MLSsoccer.com.