Buenos Aires native Federico Higuaín vs. Lanús-born Diego Valeri. Two playmakers and two club legends in their own right. This week, they’re two jugadorazos with the power to make or break Sunday’s MLS Cup final.
While you could easily toss around a half a dozen other names – players that you believe will have a bigger influence on the championship match – these Argentine players are our choices for finals impact stars.
“El Pipita” Higuaín (otherwise known as Chip Master) is a potent attacker whose substantial import to the Crew’s offense can often go unnoticed in comparison to Kei Kamara’s goal-scoring prowess. But check this – Higauín had the most touches of any player on the field in his side’s dominant 2-0 first-leg Conference Finals win over the New York Red Bulls. He was crucial from his No. 10 spot, with 89 interventions and a passing accuracy of 84 percent on 62 passes.
As is evident from his regular season stats shown above, Pipita’s fortaleza is truly his distribution, which is what makes him so vital to Crew 96 success. With Kamara as an attacking outlet for his creativity and composure on the ball, there’s a ridiculous amount of potential for destruction.
Diego Valeri’s season with the Timbers has been tainted by setbacks after returning from an ACL tear sustained last October, but he’s peaking and it couldn’t be coming at a better time.
Valeri is the heart of the Portland attack – tucking into the No. 10 spot for the Cup final visitors – and is free to roam and create wherever he damn well pleases. He also just so happens to be coming off his best performance of the season after a fantastic showing in his side’s 2-2 draw vs. FC Dallas. Just look at this distribution chart – there are at least 13 completed final third passes in there. Damn.
You’ve no doubt seen Lucas Melano’s jaw-dropping goal to silence the Dallas faithful in stoppage time by now. Guess who sent him that taco…? Yep, Valeri.
We’re counting down the days, hours, and minutes until one of these Argentine playmaking legends is crowned MLS Cup champion. Who’s your pick?