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Columbus Crew star Federico Higuain being investigated for passport improprieties

Toronto FC v Columbus Crew

COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 22: Federico Higuain #33 of the Columbus Crew gives the thumbs up after he slid in to the back boards chasing down a loose ball in the first half against Toronto FC on August 22, 2012 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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The Columbus Dispatch is reporting some potentially disturbing news for Crew and a potential black eye for Major League Soccer.

The Crew and MLS are endeavoring “to determine the validity of reports from Argentina that designated player Federico Higuain is facing charges of passport falsification,” according to the report.

First off, no one in the league or in Hunt Sports Group, the club owner/operators, run by the sons of an American soccer pioneer who care very much about the family name, want to see the words “passport” and “falsification” attached to one of their players. That’s the obvious part.

According to the Dispatch story, Higuain and 32 other Argentina players from Argentina are being investigated for falsifying documents ahead of professional stints in Europe. In the day of intense border security, this sounds like serious business.

The other matter to consider here is that Columbus is already in an unstable place, recently clobbered by season-ending injuries to two very important figures, starting Brazilian center back Glauber and do-all midfielder Eddie Gaven.

Higuain, the team’s playmaker, is the heart and soul of the team, the one man Columbus absolutely cannot afford to lose at this point. (Well, probably along with goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, having another good season.) If something happens to affect Higuain’s eligibility – and in fairness, we don’t seem anywhere close to anything like a suspension, not at present, anyway – then it’s hard to see Columbus getting into a playoff position. The Crew is currently seventh in the 10-team East, having lost two of three since Glauber and Gaven fell out of the lineup.