The blows keep on coming for Columbus Crew SC. The Black & Gold began the season with no wins through the opening five matches. Then came the Kei Kamara fiasco, which resulted in the club trading last year’s leading goal scorer to the New England Revolution. Defender Amro Tarek left the club in early May and rumors are circulating of other unhappy Columbus players.
With only three wins on the year Crew SC currently sit on 14 points in 2016, which puts the Black & Gold in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and only three points off the bottom of the table.
As the offense is finally beginning to adjust to life after Kei, it takes another hit as the club announced today that playmaker Federico Higuain will now miss extensive time.
"Pipa's undergoing an operation today," he coach Gregg Berhalter told Massive Report on Thursday. "He's going to be out for six to eight weeks."
Massive Report has since learned that Higuain's is dealing with a sports hernia.
If the glass is half full, and Higuain misses only six weeks, the attacker would still miss at least seven league matches. Two more weeks and Higuain could see two more games gone before he is cleared to return to play.
Since signing with Crew SC as a Designated Player in late July of 2012, Higuain has not featured in just 14 matches for the Black & Gold. Three of those came in his first few weeks in Columbus as he adjusted to a new city and new teammates following his move from Argentinean side Colón.
In his five years with Crew SC, Higuain has established himself as one of Major League Soccer’s top playmakers. Pipa, as he is affectionately nicknamed, has 38 goals and 35 assists in 116 appearances for Columbus. Higuain was also honored as the club’s Barbasol Most Valuable Player in back-to-back seasons after scoring 11 goals in both 2013 and 2014.
Berhalter has dealt with a plethora of injuries already in 2016. Center back Gaston Sauro is currently out for four months after surgery to repair a torn PCL in his knee. Fellow defender Tyson Wahl has battled concussion symptoms that have kept him out of the last four league matches. Midfielder Tony Tchani made his competitive return for the Black & Gold on Wednesday night in the U.S. Open Cup after a calf strain has forced him off the field since last April.
Added to the Higuain injury is news that central midfielder Mohammed Saeid will also miss time.
"Mo had a broken vertebrae in his back," Berhalter updated.
"In the Philly game, you could see he was extremely hampered by it to the fact that he had to come out. Over the break he was limited and he's working his way back."
In the 72nd minute, Saeid collided with Philadelphia Union midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta in what appeared to be an innocuous challenge. No foul was called and play continued for several seconds. When referee Robert Sibiga stopped the game, both Saeid and Higuain were down - with Pipa holding his lower chest area. Both players managed to walk slowly to the sideline before being substituted in the 74th minute.
The two weeks off for MLS clubs during the group stage of the Copa America allowed some improvement on the injury report, but Higuain and Saeid’s addition leaves two major holes for Crew SC as the club looks to get the season back on track as we enter the summer months.