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.
Fantastic atmosphere inside the stadium tonight. AO watch parties looked to be well-attended too! #UniteAndStrengthen
— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) September 12, 2012
Klinsmann, U.S. players gushing over #Crew96 Stadium atmosphere. Obvious they want to play here as much as possible.
— Shawn Mitchell (@smitchcd) September 12, 2012
USA still undefeated at Crew Stadium! USA - when you need 3, come home to Crew Stadium - we will deliver! twitter.com/CrewPrez/statu…
— Mark McCullers (@CrewPrez) September 12, 2012
Well deserved 3 points! Amazing crowd tonight! Great effort all around from the boys!!#USA
— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) September 12, 2012
Well done, Columbus. We see you.
— Nike Soccer (@nikesoccer) September 12, 2012
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) September 12, 2012
Great crowd here in Columbus tonight! Thanks for your support and making it that much more special! #9/11
— Brek Shea (@BrekShea) September 12, 2012
Danny Williams: "I have played before emotional fans in Germany but never anything like this. The 24,000 felt like 50 or 60,000 in here"
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) September 12, 2012
Cherundolo: USSF "should put thought into playing more games here or venues that are similar." KC is next month, final round sites tbd
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) September 12, 2012
Tim Howard: "We were talking inside and there’s no bigger homefield advantage for us in America than here." #USMNT
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) September 12, 2012
— Dante Washington (@DanteWashington) September 12, 2012
— Dante Washington (@DanteWashington) September 12, 2012
— MassiveCity (@MassiveCityFFC) September 12, 2012
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) September 12, 2012
— U.S. SOCCER (@ussoccer) September 12, 2012
Following Friday's night's loss in Kingston, three important points hang in the balance for the United States Men's National Team in Tuesday night's re-match in 2014 World Cup Qualifying.
Where better to host than Crew Stadium, where the Stars & Stripes are 5-0-3 all-time? National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard is happy for the chance to rebound in front of a home crowd at a venue where the US has seen so much past success.
"Crew Stadium has been good to us," the Everton 'keeper said. "The crowd always turns out. It is one of very few places in America that we get a pro-American crowd in terms of the cast majority. That's going to feel really good. We've been away from home three games in a row now and we need some home cooking. All of our feelings leaving this stadium have been very positive in the past 10 years, so that's a good thing."
Howard was a part of the last US team to play at Crew Stadium, a 2-0 shutout of Mexico on February 11, 2009 as part of 2010 World Cup Qualifying.
The U.S. Men's National Team returned from Jamaica to hold a public training session at Crew Stadium. Over 3000 fans got to watch the USMNT up close and personal.
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?