In the wake of Federico Higuain’s record-setting 62nd career regular-season assist with Columbus Crew SC, we gathered his teammates’ thoughts, starting with Wil Trapp, and took a look from a player’s perspective on Higuain's ever-evolving role, what the average supporter may not notice about him, and what allows the 34-year-old to continue to be a high-proficiency player through eight seasons in Major League Soccer.
“I think first of all, you have to look at his personality. He’s in love with the game of soccer.”
When asked about Higuain’s ability to not only be a successful No. 10, but to continue doing so at the age of 34, Trapp said it’s really about his love of the game and everything that comes with it.
“I mean truly, if you talk to him. He loves to play it. He loves training. He loves to watch it, talk about it, and everything. Not only does he have the talent and the skills to do it, but also, he is always trying to learn more. He’s always studying the game,” Trapp said.
“For me, he’s just cerebral in how he thinks about the game”
Akin to almost any other professional sports league, sometimes players are just simply better. Take it as the Michael Jordan effect; no matter the effort and work ethic, some players develop certain implicit qualities that sometimes can’t even be described, let alone replicated.
That was the sentiment Trapp offered when asked about what makes Pipa so special.
“[Higuain is cerebral] in how he analyzes it on the field, and executes his role on the field. He understands multiple facets of the game extremely well, whether that’s the tempo of it, the rhythm of it, when to play the right passes, when not to play the right passes, when to slow it down, when to speed it up,” Trapp said. “It’s this all-encompassing idea that he is able to put out on the field game-in and game-out.”
“I think for fans to watch him, especially live is great to see because you get to see the inner workings of the game”
We always want to know what athletes do day-in, day-out. Yes, they train and play for a living, but it’s more than that; what about after the designated training hours? Who stays late? What drills are they doing? What do they work-related in their spare time?
With that in mind, Trapp commended Higuain on his professionalism and what he does from the standpoint of his daily regimen that fans may not realize.
“He is one of the best professionals that I have ever seen. I mean how he prepares his body, his mind for the games. Also, just how much he wants to win every game and that is in training every day,” Trapp said.
“To be 33, 34 years-old now, and to continue this high level of execution is amazing. But also, I think for fans to watch him, especially live is great to see because you get to see the inner workings of the game and where he is moving and how that sets up the next play, whether he is involved or not. He is always making things happen, because that is just the player that he is.”
“It is amazing to see how his role has changed”
From one captain to another, Trapp, who signed a Homegrown Player contract a year after Higuain came aboard, spoke on Higuain’s leadership role and how it has manifested itself over the years.
“I think he takes that leadership role very seriously. That role being, he is the guy on the field that everything needs to go through, and it does anyways. And my role, for example, is to connect the back half of the team to Pipa and the front half of the team,” Trapp said.
“His role is to facilitate and unbalance the opponent for us to score goals. It is amazing to see how his role has changed a little bit and how he has taken on that role and he has felt comfortable and confident with his teammates in holding each other accountable. He does a really great job not becoming overly frustrated with people in understanding that when you need a kick in the rear, he gives it to you. But other times, he is very supportive. And for someone whose native tongue isn’t English, it is pretty amazing to see.”