An injury to one of his knees in June 2019 marked a break in the career of Federico Higuaín. Despite being one of the greatest idols of the institution, Columbus Crew decided to do without his services (although he offered to occupy a position within the organization). But in the head of the second son of former soccer player Jorge Higuaín, there is only one idea: to play soccer again.
At 35, fate put him at DC United, one of the most important franchises in the United States, with a dual function. In addition to serving as a first-team player He is also one of Coach Ben Olsen's assistants.
In dialogue with Infobae, Higuaín recounted the hard moment he went through, his eagerness to step on a soccer field again, his future as technical director, the criticism of his brother Gonzalo and the possibility of being on the field of play again.
The United States press claims that DC United is interested in hiring his brother Gonzalo. I imagine you heard this version
The truth, I have not spoken to anyone from the club and nobody from the club spoke to him. I would like of course. Like him too. Who would not like to play with his brother? Hopefully one day it will happen. But today it is only news.
Gonzalo shined with very heavy shirts, like those of Real Madrid, Napoli or Juventus. Why do you think you are so criticized in Argentina?
I know what he did, what he does and what he is. How he did it, how he does it and how he will continue doing it. The truth, criticism must have a kind of foundation. If they do not have it, it should not be given importance. A player of Gonzalo's category is out of the evaluations.
Do you think that sometimes there is fury against him in criticism?
That is the problem of the critic. Not just my brother. All the boys who have passed through the National Team, who are great soccer players. What you should do is try to imitate them, not look for the mistake to dramatize a situation. They played for 15 years being figures in the best teams in Europe. They are super respected. Then there are other types of situations that occur, product of which generate some sensations. Everyone is free to say what they want, but that is not why I have to share it. I am clear that both he and all these guys are incredible.
The Kun Agüero, at the time, stated that when they are not in the national team they will be missed. Do you agree with this opinion?
The spirit of sport is to compete. They came to the most important situations. Unfortunately they could not crown it, but the satisfaction of participating in those meetings is maximum. They must be accompanied and helped at all times, especially in difficult times. From the AFA, from the media, the soccer fan … Everything is built from another place, not from criticism.
THE VICTORY ON GALLARDO'S FUTURE AND HIS PAST IN RIVER
When you started your career did you share a squad with Marcelo Gallardo, did you imagine him as technical director?
I imagined him as a coach. What he has achieved is incredible, but I imagined that he could lead a soccer team. I think that, like everyone, at first we wanted to be soccer players, then we want to be champions. There are players who played many years and won 1 or 2 titles. And another 40. The objective when you start playing is to belong to professional rosters and try to do it well, competing for that title. That happens when one is small. And the same must happen when you are a coach. Gallardo, shortly after, won a South American. And it is too much. Not even the most optimistic beginner can imagine such a thing. I figured I was going to direct. He is doing it and the titles give more hierarchy to his work.
In what actions did you imagine him as a coach?
I remember going to train with Primera and I saw him as a guy who, in addition to being incredible as a player, was in all the details off the court. He was an organized person. He was responsible for everything that happened. I imagined it, they are details that one observed. Some have directed, and others have not. There are some that I imagined that they were not going to do, and they have. Soccer admits all kinds of possibilities. I imagined him for his understanding of the game, his way of executing it, the things he said. Coudet was another profile, but he was a technician on the court. I had a clarity to read the game …
Would you like to return to Argentine soccer or is it a closed door?
Yes I would like it. Doors do not close. As long as I feel comfortable playing soccer and can commit to the ideas of the people I work with, it will be here or wherever. I have not decided. Today I have work here and I have played a long time in this league. We have been in the United States for a long time with my family, but that does not mean that I cannot continue elsewhere.
Would you like a new stage in River?
Today I would like to do things well at DC United. Being able to respond on and off the court, with the two possibilities they gave me. The future will go hand in hand with what you can do as a worker and as a person. River is very well like this, and I hope I can continue holding it. My idea is to do things well here.
What do you remember of your time in River?
It was super cute. He educated me at the school level, at the soccer level. They formed me as a player and a person. The school was given to me by River. I am super grateful, both me, my brother and my entire family. I had the opportunity to debut, to play a few minutes. It is a demanding club and it was a squad with very good players. I decided to make another type of decision and test if I could play professionally, something that I could demonstrate over time. I'm glad to continue playing soccer.
It played in another great one like Independent. Why couldn't it settle?
He had a 3 year contract. Unfortunately things did not go well for me. The club was also going through a difficult situation. It ended up breaking the contract and I had to go back to fight it and try to be able to participate. I had the possibility of Godoy Cruz y Colón. I would have loved to settle down, but it was a difficult year for everyone. They made their decisions and I was not in the plans. Unfortunately I could not do things as I would have liked.
HIS DOUBLE CHALLENGE IN DC UNITED AND THE EXPONENTIAL GROWTH OF MLS:
Before coming to DC United, he shone in the Columbus Crew. How do you classify your time in that franchise?
Well, the truth is that all this time in the league I have felt very happy, very satisfied. I would have liked to crown with a title in some of the opportunities we had, but I was not that lucky. I am happy. After 8 years DC United gave me the opportunity to play soccer again after an ugly injury to my right knee. So super grateful and hoping that this can be reactivated for the competitions to return.
Why did you accept the challenge from DC United?
I had the misfortune to injure myself between game 10 and 12 last year. The year passed and a new coaching staff arrived. The decision was made to dispense with my services as a footballer, but making it clear that they wanted to count on me in any area that I decided, but my intention was to play soccer. Life is decisions, and I chose to continue playing soccer. DC United gives me that opportunity and that of taking my first steps as an assistant, being in the analysis of the rivals, in the control of the young players. Being able to speak soccer on and off the field. I'm interested in being able to direct when I can't play soccer anymore. I am super happy.
Was being an assistant and collaborating with youth players key to your decision?
No, my idea in principle is to be able to play soccer. I think I'm at an age when I don't have much more time to play and I wouldn't have liked to retire from football due to injury or because a club decides I can't do it anymore. I want to try again and see that I can compete as I like. Otherwise, there is this possibility, which interests me. But my priority is to play football again. I'm excited, like when I was a kid. It was an ugly injury, which takes a long time. My idea is to play again after so much effort.
What goals were set for this season?
The same that all teams have. The illusion is to be able to compete. Material there. It is a franchise with a long history in MLS, with a new stadium, very nice. There is experience and young people who promise. There is a technician who knows the league. He played it and has worked on the team for more than 15 years. It is a competitive league. Before there were 4 or 5 teams that were going to fight. Now it is the other way around. Only 4 or 5 are the ones that you know will not be there. It is a difficult competition and the level has grown a lot.
What do you like about MLS?
What I like most about the league, in addition to having grown in every way, is that they bet on a project. The league has changed a lot since I've been here, and it's only 8 years. Before, the great player with a career in Europe was brought to the end of his career. Now there are other types of bets. They have been able to resell and do business; At some point soccer is business. The most important thing is that they give a project a useful life, they do not change from one day to the next. That's good. There is also respect for contracts
Why do you think that in Argentina the MLS is minimized?
I love it. There are public opinions, that people can look for, of players who played in leagues better than Argentina, speaking wonders of the MLS. If these guys, who are world figures, decide to play for 3 or 4 years in this league and speak wonders, it is that the league is not as bad as they say. They carry the price of being a league that only takes a few years and that of a team in formation. I think the teams give life to the leagues. Both the league and the national team are growing. Here they bet on projects, they give development time to ideas. I played in Argentine football, and I have been playing here for a long time: I can say that this league is very good, there are Argentine players who have been here for a long time and have decided to stay, and not only for the economic reasons.
I am impressed by the organization, clothing, hotels, transportation, training materials, premises, fulfillment of contracts, payments, schedules schedules … They make the footballer just have to think about playing football and not having to take care of other issues. Here all you have to do is play soccer, and that's a lot. The club gives you the guarantees and support for you to develop.