Midfielder Cristian Higuita has been missing from the Orlando City lineup since he suffered a hamstring injury in the 2-2 draw against Chicago in the middle of August. He returned to the midfield on September 24th and has played in four games since returning from injury. Just a few minutes into the second half of City's final match, he found the back of the net for Orlando City’s third goal of the night and the first of Higuita’s season.
“It’s very exciting for me, it’s my first goal of the season,” Higuita said after the match. “I’ve been working very hard towards this point and I just hope that I can keep doing so.”
Preparing for his return from injury, Head Coach Jason Kreis said that he spoke to Higuita about moving forward and creating attacking opportunities on the pitch rather than staying back. Higuita didn’t just create opportunities for himself, but also provided an assist to striker Julio Baptista towards the end of the match.
“We’ve talked with Cristian [Higuita] over the last couple of weeks about trying to advance himself a little bit further, when we have the ball, when we’re in possession,” Kreis said. “We don’t want to see him sitting back level with Nocerino, we’d like to see him advance. So, good that he ends up on the score sheet. He took the message and he did quite well with it.”
Higuita also acknowledged his conversation with Kreis, and said that he hopes to get more opportunities and more minutes next year.
“Coach had a really great conversation with me,” Higuita said “He said that he really thinks I’m gonna be looking at getting more minutes. I think I go out and I play and I train and I think he sees that, and I’m really looking forward to stepping in next year.”
At just 22-years-old, Higuita is a young player with plenty of room to develop. He seeks to improve his game and grow as a player by listening to the people around him and doing whatever he can to help his team.
“I think I have been improving my game throughout the season,” Higuita said. “I think I go out there and really listen to the coaches and the players when I’m on the field. And it’s just a matter of moving forward and continuing that.”