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Federico Higuain, Niko Hansen make MLS Team of the Week

While the Argentinean made the starting 11, the winger earned a spot in the bench.

MLS: New York City FC at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

One of the toughest weeks of the 2018 Major League Soccer season for Columbus Crew SC ended with two Black & Gold players selected to the league’s Team of the Week, as midfielder Federico Higuain and winger Niko Hansen were both included in the squad.

Pipa, who was pivotal to Crew SC’s 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, when he assisted Gyasi Zardes for the team’s first goals and scored the game-winner himself, was granted a spot in the starting lineup, as part of a four-man midfield alongside Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron, FC Dallas’ Maxi Urruti and Minnesota United’s Darwin Quintero.

It was the fifth selection for the veteran Argentinean in 2018 – he had been selected on weeks one, four, 14 and 24 previously. Higuaín played 87 minutes against the Rapids, but wasn’t part of Crew SC’s game day roster on Wednesday, against the Portland Timbers.

For the year, Higuain has played in 26 matches for Columbus, starting 23. He has contributed five goals and eight assists so far in 2018. Before Saturday’s win over Colorado, hadn’t scored a goal since the June 2 3-3 tie with Toronto FC. Higuain’s last assist came in the next match, a 1-1 draw at home with the New York Red Bulls.

Despite the Black & Gold’s 3-2 setback to the Timbers in Portland, the match in Oregon granted Hansen his first Team of the Week appearance of the season, as he was selected to the bench. The 24-year-old winger scored a brace against the Timbers and stepped on the field for a single minute against the Rapids.

In his second year with Crew SC, Hansen has played in 18 games, five more than his rookie season, with nine starts, six more last year. With his two finishes in Portland, Hansen has three goals and two assists on the season. His only other goal on the year came in the 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire late last month.

The two goals against the Timbers also moved Hansen into third place the Black & Gold’s top scorer’s list for 2018, passing fullback Harrison Afful who has two. Zardes, with 16, and Higuain, with five, are the two scorers ahead of Hansen for Columbus.

Following the win over the Rapids, Crew SC remains in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Black & Gold are one point ahead of the Philadelphia Union for home field advantage in the knockout round of the MLS Cup playoffs and three points behind New York City FC for third. Columbus and Philadelphia meet for the final time in the regular season on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium. This big match for playoff seeding will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET.