Higuain, Abubakar & Valenzuela headline MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week

Match Day 1 in the Major League Soccer 2018 regular season has come and gone, with Columbus Crew SC's shutout road victory over the defending champion Toronto FC on Saturday serving as an exclamation point. Emphasis of that exclamation came from MLSsoccer.com on Monday, when the League announced the season's first Team of the Week honorees.

The Black & Gold featured throughout the week's Best XI, led by game-winning scorer Federico Higuain. Defenders Lalas Abubakar and Milton Valenzuela earned recognitions for their defensive duties as well.

Week 1's big win — Entering Saturday, Crew SC had gone 1-3-1 against Toronto in the last five head-to-head matchups — was officially secured by Higuain's 43rd minute goal. Pipa's 49th career goal in his 150th career regular-season appearance for Columbus came via Artur's end-line destined ball to Valenzuela, who then zipped the knee-high cross toward the volleying Higuain. He finished the match with 86 successful passes and two shots in 88 minutes played.

Valenzuela — a new addition to the Black & Gold as a Young Designated Player — impacted the match immediately in his MLS debut. Aside from assisting on Higuain's winner, the 19-year-old Argentine full back registered a shot on goal, four interceptions, two tackles and 45 successful passes while playing the full 90 minutes.

Abubakar — Crew SC's first overall 2017 MLS SuperDraft selection — opened his sophomore year with a start at centerback alongside fellow Ghanaian Jonathan Mensah. Playing the entire match, Abubakar finished with four interceptions, six clearances, two tackles and 35 successful passes.

With the road-opening win, Crew SC brings its 2018 regular-season record to 1-0-0. Next up, Crew SC hosts the Montreal Impact at MAPFRE Stadium for the first of two regular-season meetings this year on Saturday, March 10 (1 p.m. ET).


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