In a storybook ending to the final season of his career, Gonzalo Higuain won the 2022 MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. A fitting accolade for a player that epitomized defiance in the face of adversity.
Gonzalo’s start to the 2022 campaign was slow and disappointing, mirroring Inter Miami CF‘s form to begin the season. In the third game, a 2-0 loss to LAFC, Higuain was subbed off according to Coach Phil Neville because “We had to bring Gonzalo off because we needed more energy on the pitch.”
By the fifth game of the season, things were so bad that benching the team’s DP player seemed like the imminent move from the coach.
Gonzalo injured his knee in practice prior to facing the New England Revolution in the sixth match of the campaign, and it would lead to him missing games. In Gonzalo’s absence, Leonardo Campana emerged, and the team would go on a three-game win streak.
At that point, much of the fanbase turned against their star player. While being subbed in for Campana late in the match against Atlanta United, Higuain was booed loudly by the home crowd. The team won the game, but the story was about the fan’s negativity toward Higuain. Gonzalo’s relationship with the fanbase was at its lowest point.
Higuain worked quietly in silence, coming off the bench for Inter Miami. The Argentine star who had played in some of the top clubs in the world continued to grind, never giving up on himself or on his team.
— Xavier Guerrero (@XGLAVOZ) October 25, 2022
The redemption of Gonzalo Higuain began with a wonderful game against the Philadelphia Union. A fitter, more mobile Higuain scored a fantastic goal for Miami against Philadelphia. That same night, Alejandro Pozuelo was presented as the Heron’s latest acquisition.
Higuain would go on a tear during the remaining stretch of the season, scoring at a prolific pace for Miami. It seemed that Gonzalo regained his mojo and form. The Argentine star put the team on his back and led them to an improbable sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and a playoff appearance.
The boos turned to cheers from the fanbase, and the experts that predicted that Inter Miami CF would finish near the bottom of the conference had been proven wrong.
The redemption of Gonzalo Higuain has come full circle. In a season of turmoil and struggles, Higuain made amends to his team and his city by providing a memorable season. The legendary striker ends his career with the 2022 MLS Comeback Player of the Year award, a fitting prize for a man who faced adversity and never backed down. Thanks Gonzalo, for the memories, and the lessons. “Respect and admiration, but never fear.”
2022 @MLS Comeback Player of the Year 🏆
Un momento muy especial para una persona especial, felicidades Gonza! pic.twitter.com/66dRgrL1Cp
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) October 27, 2022