With Higuaín out, is Finley the man to step up?

Rookie could get chance with playmaker out

Ryan Finley

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USA Today Photos

With Federico Higuain suspended for two matches, Columbus Crew rookie forward Ryan Finley may have been given the opportunity he's worked toward all season.

After scoring a hat trick in the Crew reserves match against the FC Dallas reserves, Finley says he's in a good run of form, and that the scoring should be an indication of his ability.

“I think any time you step on the field, no matter what game you're playing, and you score three goals, I think it obviously shows you're in a little bit of form,” he said. “I'm just hoping to work my way into the first team and get more and more minutes each week, and hopefully take my chances there, and hopefully translate the goals from there into the first team.”

The first-year player from Notre Dame has yet to be in the Columbus first XI, but with a void to fill up top and Finley's solid play with the reserves, the chance may be coming. Crew head coach Robert Warzycha says that while it hasn't been decided who will replace Higuain, it may be Finley's time.

“We haven't made that decision yet. Today we had the reserve game, and Ryan scoring three goals helps a lot,” he said. “I think if you ask the player, they're all ready to start. It doesn't matter what the outcome could be, they always want to start. I think Ryan probably deserves a look, and probably deserves more time on the field.”

Higuain is the only Crew player to score since Dominic Oduro found the net on July 27, and Warzycha says that the team needs to be more clinical, especially in Higuain's absence.

“We have to finish our chances. We're going to create the chances, but we have to finish,” he said. “Fortunately for [Higuain], he was in the right place at the right time, and he's a good finisher. Now, without him, we're going to have to have somebody who can step up and finish those chances.”

Finley hopes that with his increased minutes, he can solve the problem that he shares with his teammates, and that he can continue to have an impact on the game, regardless of how much time he sees.

“It's kind of been frustrating in the first team games. I've had a couple of chances, and I just hit them wide or they've been blocked or stuff like that,” he said. “I'm hoping to maybe get an increase in minutes; whatever the coaching staff decides, I'm fine with. I've created some chances when I've gotten in, even though I'm only getting in for 15 or 20 minutes, so I think if I keep doing what I'm doing, hopefully I'll get the chance.”