Columbus Crew SC locked in a key part for next season, a savvy veteran that fans are well familiar with. Federico Higuain will return for a seventh season with the team for the 2018 season.
“We are pleased to announce that Federico Higuain will be in Black & Gold as a Designated Player for the 2018 season,” Sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said in the press release. “Federico has been instrumental in establishing our style of play over the last four years and played a significant role in helping the club secure playoff berths in three of those four seasons. Federico’s professionalism, character and humility off the field coupled with his undeniable, difference-maker ability on the field, make him one of the greatest players ever to wear a Columbus Crew SC jersey.”
Details of Higuain’s new contract were not disclosed, but Pipa will continue to be a Designated Player.
At 32, Higuain has had a career resurgence in 2017 after his injury-shortened 2016 season. He’s tallied nine goals and a career high 11 assists this season despite missing eight games. Since returning to the lineup on August 23rd against the LA Galaxy, Higuain has six assists in six matches, a 4-0-2 over that stretch for the Black & Gold. Overall, Crew SC is 12-9-3 in the games Higuain’s played this season.
Over his first six years, Higuain has put a stamp on the Columbus record books. He’s tied for 10th in appearances with 147 games. His 142 starts is seventh in team history. Higuain is third in goal with 48 and second in assists with 46. He also has two more goals and assists in his six career playoff games, all starts.
Higuain’s return was put in doubt in early August when he told The Columbus Dispatch that this season would be his last with Crew SC. He did walk the comments back in early September. Now two months after stating his intention to leave, the Argentine signed a deal to remain with the Black & Gold for another year.
“It’s a very important day, it’s a big day for me,” Higuain said in the release. “It’s not easy to be away from my country, but here in Columbus my family and I have found a place to live and to, as I said in the beginning, be happy.
“I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this process in the time that I have been working for the club and say that I’m very happy.”
Crew SC fans have shown deep appreciation for the playmaker as he’s been the focus of supporters chants and banners over his years with the team. This past Saturday, in what possibly could have been Higuain’s last home game, a large Tifo was unveiled as a tribute to his contributions to the club.
It was clear over the course of the last couple months the place that the city of Columbus and team has in Higuain’s heart too. He was deeply moved by the Tifo and when asked about it after the match, Higuain said, “I have no words to explain (the depth) of my feelings,” before talking more philosophically about his time in Columbus.
“Me... and my family, we are very appreciative for all the love and support that we’ve received from the first day that I’ve gotten here”
It’s a love affair between a club, fans and a player that has at least another season to go.