The latest injury report from the Crew has Federico Higuain questionable with a left calf contusion. Robert Warzycha told Adam Jardy of the Dispatch that he was "just resting" after being held out of parts on Wednesday's practice. It's unclear if Higuain will be ready to play on Saturday or if this is part of the Crew's smoke screening techniques. Replacing Higuain does put Warzycha on the spot.
No player is more central to the Crew than Higuain. He's omnipresent on offense, drifting touchline to touchline while picking up the ball in midfield to start the attacks. He's the rare box to box playmaker. Beyond his skills, the Crew don't have a replacement that even plays the same style.
Ultimately, if Higuain can't play Columbus has two options. They can find someone to replace Higuain in the lineup while keeping the same formation or they can switch to a formation that would better suit the players available.
If Warzycha seeks a like for like swap, the team does have two player who can play with the ball at their feet, but both have their weaknesses. Eddie Gaven links up well, is a great dribbler, and moves well on and off the ball. He's not very good at being the creator. He's a player that can do just about everything on the field, but he's more comfortable supporting the stars. His game suffers if he's required to carry the team.
Ben Speas is the other option. He plays with the swagger of a Higuain and he was often tasked to play as the withdrawn playmaker on the reserve team last year. He's shown he's very good with the ball at his feet, but his vision isn't as good as Gaven's or Higuain's. He's likely to try and take people on rather than look for the pass. That's fine as a slashing winger, it's less as a playmaking orchestrator.
If history is any guide, Warzycha will skip trying to replace the singular talent of Higuain and likely will look to change up the formation. When Guillermo Barros Schelotto was held out of the team, Warzycha often played a more direct style with a flatter 4-4-2. This would mean that Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta would be tasked with working off each other rather than the solo target forward that the Crew has used since Higuain's arrival.
The Crew offense revolves around the Argentine playmaker. The question that inevitably pops up after a tough tackle or rough collision is what would the team do without him. Columbus may find out on Saturday.