Crew manager explains Federico Higuain’s absence

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Eyes went wide open Saturday when Crew manager Robert Warzycha had Federico Higuain – the MLS man that everybody is talking about lately – on the bench to begin Saturday’s big match at New York

There had been no mention of injury before Saturday’s contest, important because of Columbus precarious perch in the fifth and final playoff spot coming into Saturday’s round of MLS contests.

(MORE: Drilling down on RBNY’s 3-1 win)

Somehow, reports and quote sheets following Saturday’s match failed to properly account for the decision. So MLSSoccer.com did a little follow-up. What Warzycha told the league’s web site later by phone:

Turns out, Higuain was not available to start because of pain beneath the big toe of his right foot.

He had an injection on Wednesday. It’s probably a week for it to heal. He knew he was good for 15 minutes today. … He was warming up and didn’t have pain so we took a risk. If he tried to play today and had more pain he would be out the next week or so and we could lose him for the next two or three games.”

Fair enough. But why, then, wait until the 89th minute – about 10 minutes after Dax McCarty’s goal put the Red Bulls on top?

Warzycha explained the hope was for a corner kick or free kick in a spot where his new Argentine could do something special. Either way, the manager said Higuain would be ready for Wednesday’s match in Ohio against badly struggling Chivas USA.

Mark that down as a “must-have” if Columbus wants to stay relevant in the playoff chase.