He didn't get the start on Sunday, but Federico Higuain made his presence felt in Columbus Crew SC's 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Higuain subbed on at halftime after playing in 120 minutes in Crew SC's Knockout Round win against D.C. United. 16 minutes later he played a deft backheel to a streaking Gyasi Zardes, who was able finish past RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles. The assist added to Higuain's production in this year's postseason, after he scored both goals against United.
Neither team created many chances at MAPFRE Stadium, as they combined for just five shots on target. RBNY's best chance came in the dying moments, as Kaku found Bradley Wright-Phillips over the Crew SC defense. The Englishman flicked a header to the back post but Zack Steffen was able to get down with his left hand and prevent the equalizer.
- 61' — CLB — Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Crew SC accomplished what they needed to, most notably not conceding any away goals. The pressure now falls on the Red Bulls, as the Supporters' Shield winners head home needing a win. If they concede a goal at Red Bull Arena, Chris Armas' team will need to score at least three to advance.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Higuain's backheel was the moment of class that stood out on Sunday.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: He played just 45 minutes, but the Columbus No. 10 completely changed the shape of the match upon his insertion.
- Eastern Conference Semifinal Leg 2
Sunday, November 11
New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew SC