Goal is sweet revenge for Federico Higuain after getting "beat up" by Chivas USA

Knocked down more than once, Higuain rises to the occasion

Federico Higuain

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USA Today Sports

On Friday forward Federico Higuain was named Crew captain through a formula that included player voting and the coaches' consideration.

A day later he showed why someone who has only been with the club since August is held in such high regard.

Higuain, the team's third Designated Player in history, withstood a barrage of hard challenges to score a stunning goal in a 3-0 victory Saturday at Chivas USA in the season opener for both teams.

The goal came in the 51st minute and set the Crew on their way to the win. And in the process, a message was sent to the rest of the league, according to Crew defender Josh Williams: Don't make the talented Argentine mad.

"He was getting beat up," Williams told MLSsoccer.com. "They were bullying him around. It kind of lit a fire in him on that shot he had. I thought there were a couple of cheap shots in there. They were beaten him up but he kept getting up. That says a lot for him."

Higuain, who had five goals and seven assists in 13 games last season to be named MLS Newcomer of the Year, broke the deadlock with an artful strike from 30 yards that pinged the right post after eluding Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

"The goalie never had a chance on it," Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven told MLSsoccer.com. "It's always nice to have someone who can hit something like that."

Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum marveled at Higuain's resiliency, "The one time he was actually on his feet he banged it in. He's a terrific player."

Earlier, the Crew got a huge right-handed save from Gruenebaum in the 27th minute on one of the Crew's few defensive breakdowns.

Still, the match was in doubt until Williams's acrobatic side volley off a Gaven corner kick in the 88th minute gave the Crew breathing room before newcomer Dominic Oduro's 70-yard countering sprint iced the game in the 94th.

Gaven credited the success in part to Higuain, who took over the captaincy after defender Chad Marshall wore the armband the past two seasons.

"He's an important leader even though he's been here less than one year," Gaven said. "He definitely showed his leadership tonight."