Federico Higuain already has his three kids to care about, but it looks like Columbus Crew SC’s maestro will also have a teenager to look out for in 2018. The Black & Gold signed 21-year-old Venezuelan midfielder Eduardo Sosa and are apparently relying on Pipa’s mentorship for him to make the most of his first year with the club.
Considering that Higuain will be 34 by the end of the 2018 season, which will be his seventh with the club and could very well be his last, the signing of Sosa seems to be the first move made by the coaching staff with the goal of developing a player to replace the Argentinean when he decides to leave Ohio.
“If Federico was not going to be around, we were going to have to find someone who could make a similar impact from day one,” head coach Gregg Berhalter told the media in a teleconference addressing Sosa’s signing.
A professional player since he was 17, Sosa has already played 59 matches for Zamora FC, his former club, including some in the Copa Libertadores, the most important South American tournament for clubs.
The connections between him and Higuain are obvious both on and off the field and they could play an important role in making them closer on a daily basis. They both were born in South American countries and are native Spanish speakers. Also, both are used to wearing the No. 10 and having a central role in the teams they play for.
According to Berhalter, the plan is to use Pipa as a mentor to help him in developing the immense potential the club saw during the scouting process.
“He’s a guy that caught our eye basically for how he’s been performing at such a young age,” Berhalter said about Sosa. “We thought it’s a perfect time to add someone as we have Federico guaranteed for the next year, we have him back around. It’s an environment for Eduardo to grow without the pressure of having to perform from day one.”
Sosa himself also seems excited with the prospect of learning from Higuain, arguably one of the best players in Crew SC’s history with 50 goals and 53 assists in 160 matches with the club. In his first interview as a Columbus player, to the team’s official website, he showed he was looking forward to learning from the veteran Argentinean.
“I think I will learn a lot in Columbus,” he said. “Besides, Higuain is there and he has had a great career so I think I will learn a lot from him. I have seen him play and he plays very well. I will learn a lot from him, the coaches, my teammates and the rest of the technical staff.”
If things go well, Sosa could transition from an apprentice into a valuable piece of Crew SC’s roster, one that could give Higuain some rest, something he didn’t have in the last seasons because of the absence of a capable replacement.
As Berhalter admitted, when the club went to the market looking for new additions, they targeted players who could eventually replace the Argentinean once in a while. And that could be the case with Sosa.
“One thing we’ve noticed is that when we didn’t have Federico we couldn’t play the same way and this could potentially give us some relief in that area,” the head coach added. “We know that he can play in a number of positions and we’re going to look to give him game time, especially early on.”
For all of that to happen, though, Sosa will need to adjust to the life in a new country and in a new league. According to Berhalter, even if this could be a long process, it is apparently starting from the best possible way regarding how the new signing is approaching it.
“Now it’s about getting him acclimated, getting him into the group and help him push forward in his career,” Berhalter said. “It’s going to be different from what he’s used to. We know that. But talking to the player and getting a sense of his mindset, he’s completely ready to his challenge. He was in talks to me about learning English as fast as possible, leading his new teammates, playing in our playing style, all those things, he’s really excited about them. A lot of it has to do with the mindset of the player and so far it seems he is in a great spot to accomplish this.”