A little less than a year ago, there was concern among Columbus Crew SC fans that Federico Higuain was nearing the end of his time with the club. The team’s playmaker said as much when he told The Columbus Dispatch that he thought 2017 would be his last year in Columbus.
But then in early October, Higuain signed a one-year extension to keep him with the club through 2018. Before the season was two months old, the Argentinian signed another one-year deal, keeping him with the Black & Gold through 2019.
“I think the important thing is learning. Learning how every situation’s different, but also learning how to deal with some of these situations,” head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said of why this deal was done now. “And I think there’s different ways to go about it and we’re in a position where we’re very comfortable with everything he brings to this organization and we want to show it. Now it puts everyone at ease and we can focus on winning games.”
According to Pipa, as Higuain is affectionately nicknamed, his decision to extend his time in Columbus, which dates back to 2012, has to do with happiness.
“Of course I’m happy,” Higuain said on Thursday. “I’m happy to have the chance to be in this club for another year.
“I like to work with this (coaching staff), I like my teammates, I like our idea to play football. This is a place where I get happiness.”
Of course the dark shadow hanging over this announcement, and everything to do with Crew SC this year, is the potential move to Austin, Texas that investor/operator — not owner — Anthony Precourt announced just two weeks after Higuain signed his last one-year extension.
While nothing has been announced, and the feelings continue to be more optimistic locally every day that the team will be “saved,” there is still at least a chance that the Black & Gold will not be in Columbus in 2019.
If the move does occur, players under contract would move with the club, and that now includes Higuain.
“He’s happy here,” Berhalter said when asked if he had to sell Pipa on re-signing. “Obviously due to the uncertainty, there was communication, but the message to Federico was, ‘This is something none of us can control. We’re happy with you, you’re happy here and this is going to let us focus on this season and I think for your future, you know that you’re part of it.’”
Higuain has made it known how much he and his family appreciate the fans in Columbus and how the city has become home to them. Despite keeping his private life, well, private and staying out of the limelight outside of soccer, Higuain has become an important figure in the community.
But if the club heads south to Austin, Higuain’s contractually obligated to make the move as well.
“I signed this new deal as a player of Columbus Crew,” the attacking midfielder said. “No one knows what is going to happen. I have no control of that situation. I’m a player. I’m a father of three kids. I have to work. I’m glad to keep working here.”
Higuain is right. He has no control in the ongoing battle to keep Crew SC in Columbus, and ultimately he is a soccer player and he wants to player soccer.
While it’s hard for many fans to look beyond the potential move, what’s important to remember is Higuain is now secure for another season, meaning there will be no thoughts in his mind about life after the Black & Gold this year.
That will only benefit Crew SC this season, and, potentially, help to make 2018 a special year.
“It was something that we were talking with Gregg in the end of the last season,” Higuain said. “So we wait for a couple of months and Anthony and Gregg, they took the determination to make it real. So everyone is happy.”