A legend of the Columbus Crew, a legend of Major League Soccer, will see his career come to an end at the conclusion of the 2021 regular season. And although Federico Higuain doesn’t play for the Black & Gold any longer, his retirement will be felt by all those who support the Crew.
The Argentinean, who turned 35 this week, announced on Friday that this year will be his last of professional soccer. He made the announcement of his retirement ahead of the final home game for Inter Miami, his current club, of the season.
“It’s been a great joy,” Higuain told the local media of his time in Miami. “It was another Club that gave me another opportunity to play at a pretty advanced age for a football player and I’ve enjoyed it very much. I’ve had the opportunity to play with great players and play with young guys with big dreams ahead of them. It’s been another nice year where together we tried to do our best and hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”
While Higuain’s playing career will finish with Inter, his introduction to MLS came as a member of the Crew in 2012. He was the club’s third ever Designated Player and lived up to the billing and then some. After making his Columbus and MLS debut on Aug. 19 against the Houston Dynamo, a game in which he registered an assist, Pipa, as he is affectionately known, went on to score 55 goals and dished out 63 assists in his eight seasons with the Black & Gold.
With Higuain on the roster, the Crew managed a 104-103-65 record and made the MLS Cup playoffs four times, including an appearance in the 2015 MLS Cup Final. He finished his tenure in Columbus ranked third in the club’s history in goals scored, first in assists, sixth in games played (193), fourth in game-winning goals (12), first in game-winning assists (20) and first in penalty kick goals (19).
Following the 2019 season, one in which the Argentinean tore his ACL and only played 14 games, Higuain was not retained, eventually signing with D.C. United as a player-coach. He played just 10 games for United, no starts, and scored two goals in 2020 before he was traded to Miami in exchange for $50,000 in General Allocation Money.
With Inter, Higuain paired with his brother, Argentine National Team star Gonzalo Higuain. This season, the older Higuain played 24 games, six starts, contributing three goals and four assists.
On Aug. 14 of this year, Higuain made his only return to Columbus, playing against the Crew at Lower.com Field for the first time in a 4-0 loss. Higuain came off the bench and received a standing ovation as he stepped on the field for 22 minutes and again after the final whistle blew. He then exchanged hugs and spoke with former teammates well after the match ended.
“It was really, really nice the way they welcome me back, for me and my family,” Higuain said after the game. “I will never forget it.”
While Inter has not officially been eliminated from this year’s MLS Cup playoffs, Miami sits six points back of United, who sits in the final playoff spot, with two games to play in the regular season and will need help to make the postseason. That means Higuain’s final game as a player could come on MLS Decision Day, Nov. 7, on the road against the New England Revolution.
Higuain is not likely to disappear from the soccer world after his retirement. He spoke previously about his desire to coach after his playing career and has already taken steps to move his second act in that direction.
Regardless of what he does next, Pipa will always be remembered in Columbus as a legend for the Crew and it should not be long before his name is added to the club’s Circle of Honor, regardless of what requirements were initially set for players to be eligible.