in·tan·gi·ble : adj. 1. Incapable of being perceived by the senses. 2. Incapable of being realized or defined. 3. Incorporeal.
We can all see the play on the pitch throughout the course of a match. You can see when players are subbed in by the manager, too. What the players do during practice and what they do off the field can also be seen. These are tangible things. They can be quantified and put neatly into little "statistics" columns.
Then, there are the intangibles. These are not so easily quantified or pigeonholed into neat little columns. Intangibles can make or break a team over the course of just one match or throughout an entire season. "Leadership" is one of the most recognizable traits when talking about intangibles.
One match into the 2013 MLS season and the intangibles are already at play for the Crew. On the surface, Federico Higuain has the "right stuff" when it comes to talking about intangibles. His poise, leadership and vision are on full display when he steps on the pitch. The little Argentine has quickly become a fan favorite of the supporters of the Black and Gold. From his prowess at set pieces, being in the right place at the right time and setting up an attack, he is exactly what you've come to expect from an experienced international and Designated Player.
But, what of the other players that have been added to the Crew roster since the arrival of Higuain? Are they imbued with intangibles, also? In a word, yes. Just looking at four players (Dominic Oduro, Agustin Viana, Matias Sanchez and Glauber Berti), they collectively bring 70 goals to the Columbus Crew. They also bring international experience with them. They have poise and vision to complement their play on the pitch. They have seemingly meshed well with the current Crew roster and are adding sound vision to the teams play.
The players know this, too. After the match against Chivas USA, Higuain had this to say: "We enjoyed a good game on all levels. When we needed to be aggressive on offense we were. When we needed to provide pressure we did it well. When we needed to manage the game by dominating the ball we also did it well and we were consistent overall... I think that the team had a great game on all levels. We hope to continue getting better."
As the season unfolds, look for the chemistry among the players to gel even further. The passing will get better and their vision will become sharper. These intangibles will serve to "bring up" the play of the entire team. The collective psyche of the club will see only one eventual end in sight, with that being the ultimate prize of winning the MLS Cup.
Can lightning strike twice, a la the 2008 season, for the Crew? From where I sit, the answer is a most resounding "yes".