The No. 9 - No. 10 connection; it's one of the purest relationships in soccer. For the last season and a half, it's been Gyasi Zardes and Federico Higuain, and rightly so, we spoke with the top striker and gathered his thoughts on playing with El Maestro, who just surpassed Robert Warzycha as the Club's all-time regular-season assists leader.
'A player like Pipa is just a mastermind of the game'
As a striker, who better to have alongside you than the Club's all-time regular-season assist leader? That was Zardes' sentiment.
"Pipa is an incredible player first and foremost. He is very intelligent with the ball and even without the ball," Zardes said. "He always understands the movement or runs that I am going to make, so when he gets the ball it is easier for him to find me. A player like Pipa is just a mastermind of the game and me being a forward, I love being on the field with Pipa because he can find me in tough situations and other tough circumstances."
What word comes to mind when you think of 'Federico Higuain'?
"I think he is a playmaker. He’s bold. I say bold, because he is willing to make tough passes that other players do not think about," Zardes said.
"I have rarely seen other players with his status do the same as him."
Pipa brings the determination, day-in and day-out, Zardes said, and it shows as part of his lead-by-example mentality.
"He is very determined when he steps on the field for games. His mentality, his eagerness to want to win, and to battle and to give it his all is just incredible," Zardes said. "I have rarely seen other players with his status do the same as him. I am always amazed at how determined he is to step out onto the field and give it his all and beat the other team. Whichever opponent we face, he always wants to win and play."
"He leaves me in awe every time"
"Pipa is a very hard worker. I constantly watch Pipa during training sessions and during games and how he knows his surroundings extremely well," Zardes said. "He can take a touch in front of him and the heel it, knowing that there is a player running behind him. He leaves me in awe every time that I watch him do that. Just by watching him on a daily basis, he is very consistent. He even steps it up a little every time he steps out on the field during a game. I get to see him work through training sessions and build up for the weekends. Once you see him step out on the field, he is just a complete player."