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Higuain’s suspension overturned by MLS Disciplinary Committee

The Black & Gold will have their playmaker for Saturday’s match with Toronto FC.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC received some good news on Thursday afternoon when attacking midfielder Federico Higuain was granted reprieve by the Major League Soccer disciplinary committee for a red card received in Sunday’s 0-0 road draw with Sporting Kansas City. According to the press release, it was a unanimous decision to rescinded the one-game suspension and accompanying fine for the dismissal. Higuain will now be available for Crew SC on Saturday when the Black & Gold take on Toronto FC at MAPFRE Stadium.

“I think it was a normal challenge between two players,” Higuain said of the play Thursday. “I think that was a big mistake but people make mistakes. We move on. We are thinking about the next game. I’m happy to be able to play.”

Just prior to the 45th minute mark, Higuain went in on a sliding tackle on Sporting’s Roger Espinoza. There was no foul called on the play, but, after hearing from the replay assistant Jorge Gonzalez upstairs, center referee Robert Sibiga indicated the play was under review and went over to the monitor on the sidelines.

Following a brief look, Sibiga returned and issued Higuain a straight red card, indicating in his post-match notes that the reasoning for the dismissal was for a “serious foul.” Columbus then played the remainder of the match down a man in scorching heat, but still managed to defend well enough for the 0-0 draw.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter indicated on Tuesday that the team had appealed the decision. While one replay looked like there was some contact between Higuain and Espinoza, another showed that he did not catch the SKC player with his exposed cleats. Clearly the disciplinary committee saw something that allowed them to overturn the call on the field.

Higuain was issued an undisclosed fine for failure to leave the field in a timely and orderly manner after he was shown the red card. In addition, MLS has confirmed the report of the winger Cristian Martinez’s two-game suspension for and an undisclosed fine for violent conduct in the 54th minute of Saturday’s contest.

“I will never hurt nobody. I’m not that type of player,” Higuain said. “We challenge for that ball. It was a bad interpretation by the referee or by the people (upstairs), but it’s okay. What can we do? Nothing. As I said, we move on. We are thinking of playing a great game against Toronto.”