COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew's playing style under head coach Gregg Berhalter continues to garner discussion throughout MLS, as its polarizing style of possession and attacking fullbacks provides plenty of excitement.
But at the center of Berhalter's system is Crew Designated Player Federico Higuaín. And while the Argentinian has only had seven games under his new coach, he says he likes Columbus' new style, and thinks it will take them far.
“The system that the coach has implemented is something that we enjoy and believe in, and it's something that we're going to defend wholeheartedly,” Higuaín told reporters through a translator after Crew training Thursday. “I think that it's something that we're going to come out showing that we like to play, and we want to play well.”
Higuaín even interrupted a reporter to be sure his translator made it clear how key it was for the players to focus on the style rather than the score of the game.
“For us, it's really important for everyone to understand that it's about how we play more than the result,” he said. “It's about showing the right type of football. Because the system that's put out there is very difficult to actually play. It takes time. And this, for us, is something that we know and understand, and it's important for everyone else to understand.”
And the team can see that progress, he said, in their nearly unblemished record, losing only one match between the preseason and their first seven competitive games of the Berhalter era.
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“Overall, for me and the team, it's about seeing the results from preseason to now,” he said. “There’s only been one loss, and that's the kind of thing that makes us believe. And you can tell if you follow the game, if you're on this team, you can see the progress that's going on.”
The Crew travel to Kansas City on Sunday (4 pm ET, NBCSN), and Higuaín agreed that the match against the defending champs will be a test of just how well the team has adjusted to the new style.
“Going against Sporting Kansas City is very important,” he said. “I'll repeat it, for us it's not easy to play the way we're being asked to play. But it's something that we believe is the right thing, and it's going to take time. All these matches are important.”