Through his first six matches (five starts), there is no denying that Federico Higuaín has made an instant impact in the Crew attack with his three goals and six assists since joining the team last month.
But at the same token, perhaps teams are starting to learn how to defend against the Argentine. Following last Wednesday's loss in New England-- the only hiccup the Crew has had since Higuaín joined the club-- Revolution coach Jay Heaps was pleased with how his team disrupted the forward in the final third.
"Columbus is a rhythm team and we never really let them get into rhythm," the first-year head coach explained following his team's victory. "And that was important that [Jairo] Arrieta and [Federico] Higuain couldn’t get the ball. And that was our focus – when they did get the ball, we wanted a guy on them quickly. You could see when Higuain would get the ball we were on him, and he started to drift wider and we knew to take him there."
The OPTA Chalkboards below illustrate where Higuaín's activity and distribution has been on the field over his first five starts in Black & Gold. As you can see, Heaps was correct in that his team forced Higuaín out onto the right wing more often. What is more noticable is that most of Higuaín's activity is coming in the middle third and teams are starting to limit his touches in and around the penalty area. Also, it seems Higuaín was dropping the ball off to players behind him more often in New England last week.
From what these charts show, perhaps teams are starting to learn Higuaín's tendencies a bit as they study more film on the Argentine playmaker. At the same time, Higuaín is learning to exploit MLS defenses as he adjusts to the league as well. And maybe teams picking up on Higuaín's tendencies isn't such a bad thing either. As the Argentine attracts defenders, it opens up space and opportunities for Jairo Arrieta, Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka, Milovan Mirosevic, and Chris Birchall to score goals.
Furthermore, the Crew's future opponents will still have to be wary of conceding corner kicks and free kicks in dangerous areas. Higuaín has served up two assists from dead balls and banged home two free kick goals.
Week 3 of the college soccer season has come and gone, here's how some notable Crew Youth alumni performed:
Akron Zips- (3-1-1) This Week: 1-0 W vs. Indiana, 3-1 L at Notre Dame
Akron opened up the weekend in South Bend at the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament with a 1-0 win over Indiana. Crew Youth product Eric Stevenson had the lone goal in the fixture. On Sunday, the Zips fell to hosts Notre Dame 3-1 for the team's first loss of the season. Stevenson, Wil Trapp, Andrew Souders, Thomas Schmitt, and Chad Barson have played in all five of Akron's games this season.
Louisville Cardinals- 21-2-0) This Week: 3-0 W vs. Army
In one match last week, the Cardinals took care of business on their home turf with a 3-0 win over Army. Crew Youth's Alex Obbey supplied the assist to Buck Tufty to open the scoring for UL.
Xavier Musketeers- (4-0-1) This week: 3-1 W at IUPUI, 3-1 W vs.UW Milwaukee
In a midweek match in Indianapolis, Matt Walker led the Musketeers to a 3-1 victory against IUPUI with a pair of goals. On Sunday, Walker's twin brother Will scored in Xavier's 3-1 win over UW Milwaukee at home will Matt and Rhodes Moore each supplied assists.
USF BULLS- (4-1-0) This Week: 1-0 L vs. South Carolina, 2-1 W vs. Iona
Crew Youth's Eric Osswald suffered his first defeat of the season in goal against South Carolina last Thursday, but helped his team to a 2-1 victory over Iona on Saturday.
UCLA Bruins- (3-1-1) This Week: 2-1 W vs. Tulsa, 2-1 W vs. UC Irvine
Captain Matt Wiet led the Bruins to a pair of victories in Week 3 with his solid play in central defense.
The last time the U.S. Men's National Team played at Crew Stadium was when the Yanks toppled rival Mexico on February 11, 2009 in 2010 World Cup Qualifying. Michael Bradley provided both goals in the 'dos a cero' 2-0 victory.
The only holdovers from that squad currently with the Stars & Stripes are Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore... and of course Frankie Hejduk, who started that match at right back, will be roaming around Crew Stadium on Tuesday night when the US hosts Jamaica.
Here are some highlights from the match from 2009:
The 2012-13 US Soccer Development Academy preview is out and US Soccer Technical Staff Carson Porter had some high praise for Crew Academy standout Benny Swanson and the advatage of playing up in the system.
Academy teams that benefit from players playing up:
Porter: "The Columbus Crew does a nice job playing players up. Ben Swanson is a ’97-born player who has just moved to Bradenton, Fla., and joined the U.S. U-17’s and he benefitted from being a starter for the entire year last year with the U-15/16’s despite playing up an age level. He also was rostered for the U-17/U-18’s when they made the playoffs. These are great experiences that helped prepare him for the YNT system.”
EA Sports, the award winning developer of sports video games, is creating a downloadable game cover for FIFA 13 to show their support of Major League Soccer. To determine which MLS players will appear on that cover, EA Sports is polling MLS fans to choose the three remaining spots on the game cover. The three clubs whose candidates receive the most votes will join the top-ranked player on MLSSoccer.com's 3rd annual "24 under 24" list and the downloadable cover will be revealed at the launch party in New York City on September 24.
Plus, fans who participate in the voting will be automatically entered to win two tickets to the Sideline FIFA Lounge (lounge seats on the sideline of the field with TV's and consoles included) at the 2012 MLS Cup!
Voting started on Saturday and will run through September 15. Columbus Crew's representative is Designated Player Federico Higuain.
While cleaning out our bookshelf in the digital department here at Crew Stadium, we found this video from the 2006 season of "The Voice of the Crew" Dwight Burgess interviewing various Crew players for a video series that would be shown on the stadium scoreboard.
Here's one of Dwight interviewing his now-broadcast booth mate Duncan Oughton. Even six years ago, you could tell the two had a natural chemistry.
What kind of pants is the Kiwi wearing here?
Through his first five games in Major League Soccer, Federico Higuaín has made an instant impact in the Crew attack to help the Black & Gold to a 4-0-1 record and a four match winning streak. With such production coming from the Argentine, here's a look at how Higuaín compares to similar Designated Players through their first five matches in MLS:
|PLAYER||Goals||Assists||Team Goals||Team Record|
|Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Chicago Fire)||2||3||10||3-1-1|
|Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)||0||3||4||2-1-2|
|Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)||3||1||9||5-0-0|
|Luciano Emilio (D.C. United)||2||0||6||1-1-3|
Notes: Robbie Keane's first five matches includes the 2011 Playoffs, Luciano Emilio went on to win the 2007 Golden Boot and MLS MVP while helping D.C. United to the Supporters Shield that season.
The college soccer season continued through the holiday weekend. Here's how some former Crew Youth players fared:
Akron Zips- (2-0-1) This Week: 1-1 D vs. Creighton, 2-1 W vs. SIU Edwardsville
Following the news that Head Coach Caleb Porter would become the next head coach of the Portland TImbers at the end of the season, Akron traveled to Omaha for the Ameritas Classic. The No. 6 Zips opened play with a 1-1 draw against hosts No. 3 Creighton on Friday. On Sunday, Akron beat SIU Edwardsville 2-1 with help Captain and Crew Soccer Academy product Chad Barson's opening tally. Wil Trapp, Andrew Souders, Eric Stevenson, and Thomas Schmitt all played key roles for the Zips in both results.
Louisville Cardinals- (1-2-0) This Week: 3-1 W vs. Belmont, 1-0 L at SLU
The Cardinals rebounded from last week's 3-0 loss to Maryland with a 3-1 rout of Belmont behind CSA's Alex Obbey's first goal of the season. Louisville suffered its second lost of the season Tuesday night on the road at Saint Louis.
Xavier Musketeers- (2-0-1) This week: 2-1 W vs. Wright State, 2-1 W vs. Cincinnati
Both Matt and Will Walker started and played significant minutes in the 24th ranked Musketeers' first win of the season against Wright State last Thursday in a 2-1 victory. The Walker twins each registered an assist in Xavier's weekend win against crosstown rival Cincinnati. Will Walker also had the game-winning goal in the 2-1 victory. Freshman Rhodes Moore played 27 minutes.
Boston College Golden Eagles- (1-0-0) This Week: 1-0 L vs. Boston U., 1-0 W vs. Fairfield
Goalkeeper Justin Luthy suffered his first loss of the season in crosstown showdown with Boston University on August 27 before earning his first shutout of the season at Fairfield on Monday night. Next up for Luthy and the No. 13 Golden Eagles is their opening ACC match against No. 4 Maryland.
UCLA Bruins- (1-1-1) This Week: 2-2 D at Maryland, 1-0 W at Virginia
Captain Matt Wiet led the No. 14 Bruins to a 2-2 draw on the road at Maryland in FOX Soccer Channel's National Game of the Week on Friday. To cap off the east coast road trip, UCLA traveled to Charlottesville, VA to top Virginia 1-0 in overtime.