COLUMBUS – Crew manager Robert Warzycha has a simple philosophy that continues to pay dividends: “We need Federico to be on the ball in the crucial moments because he can deliver a good pass or cross or goal.”
Federico is the Crew’s new Designated Player Federico Higuain and he once again secured points out of a dire situation.
Trailing 1-0 to Montreal on Saturday night, he drilled a perfect free kick that Chad Marshall headed home in the 80th minute to tie the match then he sent the Crew Stadium crowd into a frenzy with a salacious cross that Emilio Renteria flicked from 12 yards in the 93rd for the 2-1 victory.
“He’s capable of changing the game at any moment as you saw tonight with two beautiful services,” Marshall said.
Higuain has three goals and six assists in five games since his arrival from Argentina and the Crew (12-8-6, 42 points) have won four straight and are 4-0-2 in the past six matches.
They rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 win against New England Aug. 25 behind two free-kick goals by Higuain and Wednesday he helped set up the 95th minute winner by Eddie Gaven against Philadelphia and added another free-kick assist.
“It’s the confidence we have,” Higuain. “The coaching staff is giving us a lot of information to prepare and a lot of confidence.
“Also, the players are starting to believe. We never stop fighting. We never give up and luckily we’ve been able to win games.”
Marshall's tally came after the Crew had been stymied by an experienced Impact defense. Justin Meram was fouled and Higuain launched his restart from 40 yards.
“I sent the ball to the penalty spot,” Higuain said through a team interpreter. “We work on that. [Marshall] finished it really well.”
Marshall plowed over Meram to track the ball and head it past Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
“Higuain hit a good ball," Marshall said. "I tried to get away from my man near post. I think I kind of ran in and bulldozed over Justin."
The winning goal was just as precise.
“Federico got the ball and beat the outside back," Renteria said through a team interpreter. "At that moment I started to move and he saw I was in the box ... I knew Federico would put it into space because he is a great player.
“He made a great cross. I ran in front of the player and flicked the ball. I was lucky to put it in.”