The term “legend” is thrown around too often these days, but there’s no doubt it’s the only word to aptly describe Federico “Pipa” Higuaín.

Pipa bleeds Black & Gold and embodies what it means to be an attacking playmaker. He filled the void left behind by Guillermo Barros Schelotto and made the role his own. (Now, it’s another Argentinean star, Lucas Zelarayán, following suit.

On Saturday afternoon, Pipa signed a one-day contract to officially retire as a player for the Columbus Crew. It was an occasion to celebrate Crew royalty and a man who personified what it meant to play beautiful, creative soccer.

Higuaín is the club’s all-time assists leader with 63. His 55 goals scored ranks third in team history.

Overall, he made 193 regular-season appearances for Columbus across eight seasons. Along the way, he was named the 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year and was the Crew MVP on three occasions.

Higuaín guided the Black & Gold to four Audi MLS Cup Playoff appearances, and in 2015, an Eastern Conference championship.

Now an assistant coach for Inter Miami CF II, Pipa was back to sign his contract and be celebrated for his achievements with Columbus. He played for Inter Miami at Lower.com Field in 2021 as an opponent, but Saturday’s occasion was to celebrate him as a friend.

First came signing his contract, which included a passionate speech to Crew supporters waiting to meet him and collect a signature from the former No. 10.

Then, before kickoff, he came out to a standing ovation from fans and saw a massive maestro tifo rise in front of The Nordecke. He was also given a framed jersey.

The occasion was a reminder that if the Black & Gold are a club that truly sets new standards in Major League Soccer – from having a second soccer-specific stadium to the state-of-the-art OhioHealth Performance Center – the Crew has also had storied players who’ve reinvented the quality of play in this league.

Higuaín arrived in Columbus as the team’s third-ever Designated Player. A decade later, he’s left an indelible mark on what supporters expect from their team – players who are skillful with the ball, hard-working out of possession and selfless for the city.

Legend is a word used too frequently, but it truly is the only way to describe Pipa. While we’ll no longer have the opportunity to see him play, we had the privilege of watching him represent the Crew for eight seasons.

Higuaín has always said how much he appreciates support from fans. After Saturday, hopefully he realizes how much we appreciate him.

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