Major League Soccer kicked off this weekend with a number of high-scoring, action- packed games that thrilled fans for all 90+ minutes. Through some strange twist of fate, two of these games featured a trio of Argentine players with similar backgrounds (so similar, in fact, that there’s probably a conspiracy theory about how these guys are all the same person) who knocked a few screamers into the back of the net that sent their fans wild and made opening weekend 2013 one to remember. Remezcla gives brings you the scoop on who these guys are, so you can drop knowledge at the water cooler today:
Federico Higuaín made his mark on Saturday evening when he scored the opening goal for Columbus Crew against Chivas USA early in the second half. The Crew would go on to win 3 – 0.
Higuaín is the type of player you can describe as having football in his blood. His father is none other than Jorge “El Pipa” Higuaín, a famous defensive back who played for a variety of Argentine clubs including rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate and also for French team Stade Brestois 29, while his brother, Gonzalo Higuaín, spends his time scoring goals against Lionel Messi for Real Madrid and scoring goals alongside Lionel Messi on the Argentine national team. That’s a love/hate relationship worthy of its own telenovela. In fact, I’m copyrighting it now: Compañeros & Enemigos En La Cancha.
He signed up with MLS last summer after years in Argentina’s Primera A on teams such as River Plate, Independiente, Godoy Cruz, and Colón. The Crew forked over its largest fee for a transfer in its club history to date and, thankfully for the owners, Higuaín made good on it having scored five goals in 13 appearances last season.
Diego Valeri had the type of league debut any player would kill for. Sunday not only marked his MLS debut with the Portland Timbers (he’s on a year-long loan from Argentine Club Atlético Lanús) but it also marked his first career-goal for the team and the league.
Valeri showed off the skills he learned in Argentina when he juggled a pass from teammate Kalif Alhassan into the box and scored while sandwiched between two New York Red Bulls defenders – who most likely had no idea how serious soccer is in Argentina because Valeri waltzed between them as if they weren’t even there.
He later set up an assist of sorts when his shot to the goal was deflected by the goalkeeper but was popped into an empty net by teammate Darlington Nagbe. I get the feeling the Timbers organization is already looking into the option to buy Valeri’s services on a more permanent basis. His Spanish-language Wiki page points out that he’s a huge fan of Boca Juniors member Juan Román Riquelme and that he coaches a team of Franciscan students during the off- season. ¡Che!
Finally, we have Fabián Espíndola who went head-to-head against Valeri on Sunday. He was responsible for two of the New York Red Bulls’ three goals in the first half of the game. The first came on the 9th minute following a defensive error by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts inside the box (keyword: butterfingers) and his second on the 23rd minute after a defensive mistake by Portland’s Mikaël Silvestre. Note to other teams: don’t screw up around Espíndola. You’ll pay dearly for it.
Espíndola’s career saw him play for Boca Juniors and Talleres in Argentina, Aucas and Deportivo Quito in Ecuador, Deportivo Anzoátegui in Venezuela and Real Salt Lake in MLS before being traded to NYC for the 2013 season.
You read that right: he scored two goals in his first game with a new team. I can think of a few people in Utah who’d be kicking themselves right now if they hadn’t gotten their hands on Costa Rican forward Álvaro Saberio (he scored a brace in RSL’s win over the San Jose Earthquakes).