Foxborough, MA – The Columbus Crew complete an emotional and brutal stretch of seven games in just 21 days on Wednesday at the New England Revolution.
Following the death of Crew midfielder Kirk Urso in early August, Columbus has responded with four wins and two draws to surge into fourth place in the East, and to within just four points of second place.
Urso, 22, died of natural causes last month, although additional test results are pending and, after a postponed match due to his funeral, Columbus has gone on an incredible run in a short span.
In addition to emotions of losing a teammate, Columbus has uncovered two stars in Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta. Higuain, the older brother of Argentine and Real Madrid forward Higuain, is the brightest of the two.
Higuain has three goals and six assists in just five matches for the Crew, and the last four of those games during a six-game unbeaten streak are wins.
With the end of the stretch in sight, and Higuain proving to be the next great Designated Player in Columbus after Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the Crew will try to add another win at Gillette Stadium against struggling New England.
"It's been a tough stretch with a lot of games in a short amount of time, but guys are stepping up," Columbus defender Chad Marshall said. "I know guys are tired but we have that 'Never say die' attitude and we're somehow managing to get three points which is nice."
Columbus (12-8-6) ended a five-match win streak for the Montreal Impact in its last match and have a draw and a win against New England (6-14-7) already this season.
The Revolution are winless in their last 10 games and completes a run of three home matches in eight days against the Crew. New England has tied its last two matches, but face a tough task against Columbus.
New England will be playing its fourth game in 11 days, and with striker Saer Sene out with a torn ACL and striker Jerry Bengtson away on international duty with Honduras, it could struggle offensively.
The only positive for the Revolution is the fixture is at Gillette, where they have accumulated 20 of their 25 points this season with a 5-4-5 record. With a playoff berth no longer a realistic option, staying off the bottom is a goal.
New England finished tied for the fewest points in last season with expansion Vancouver Whitecaps FC and has just a four-point cushion on Toronto FC and the worst record in MLS this season.