With or without Higuaín, Black & Gold ready for tilt with Revolution
With playmaker Federico Higuaín's status for Saturday's crucial Eastern Conference tilt with the New Revolution (7:30 p.m. ET/ FOX Sports Ohio) in question, the Crew is ready to for the task at hand whether not the Argentine is ready to go for kickoff.
Higuaín has yet to participate in a full training session since injuring his hip in the Black & Gold's 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on October 5, but the club's attacking maestro did begin running on the side this week.
"Soccer players, everything is in the hips and the torso area," Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss said. "If [Higuaín] has soreness there, it limits his range of motion and ball-striking, everything. But there's medical miracles sometimes.
"He's made progress, no doubt," Bliss continued. "He's got some residual effects of the injury.
"I think it's positive that we saw him running, it was good."
Should Higuaín be unable to go, Bernardo Anor and Ben Speas are the top candidates to fill the creative void in the Crew attack. Having split time this season playing centrally and on the wing, Anor is comfortable transitioning to the middle of the field. Speas has also played sparingly in a central role in 2013.
"We've got other guys who are in form and waiting to get in there," Bliss said. "Definitely, [Higuaín} is a guy we rely on, but if he's out for a game or two games -- we've got to deal with it. That's why we've got a 30-man roster.
"Bernardo can do it because he's played internally a lot for us in the past. Ben Speas has looked very good in the last 10-12 days. He can play in there and he's probably the closest thing to Higuaín in terms of turning and wiggling, being a little bit more creative. He's a guy that can fill in as well."
Added Anor:"Either position [in the middle or on the wing] is fine with me. As long as we're all on the same page, we'll be fine [whether Higuaín plays or not]."
The Crew is 1-2-0 without Higuaín this season, but did defeat a strong Houston Dynamo side, 2-0, without the Argentine. In that match, forward Ryan Finley and midfielder Justin Meram netted their first goals of 2013 to help Columbus to victory.
If Higuaín is absent from the lineup on Saturday, everyone must step up if the Crew hopes to keep its postseason dreams alive.
"If Pipa can't play, everyone has to raise their game that five or 10 percent to make up for that," Finley admitted.
"Whether he plays or not, we'll see. We're all ready to go and we're going for those three points."