Toronto was trailing 1-0 on Higuain's 19th-minute goal when Maximiliano Urruti, a 22-year old Argentine striker who was signed Friday as TFC's third designated player, made his MLS debut in the 66th minute.
"He hasn't done much in a while so we have to ease him in," TFC coach Ryan Nelsen said. "He got some valuable minutes."
Urruti also got an up-close look at fellow countryman Higuain, who is six years older and in his first full season as a designated player with the Crew. He assured the victory when he sent a stunning chip over goalkeeper Joe Bendik in the 67th minute.
The Crew's Danny O'Rourke created a turnover at midfield. Higuain dribbled into the left channel then put the ball just under the crossbar into the far netting.
"We gave it away in really poor areas," Nelsen said. "He's probably most dangerous when the opposition has the ball. He gets in really nice areas, nice pockets. We gave it away and he made a really good effort.
"If you look at their team, their DP makes a huge impact. We haven't had that."
Higuain has nine goals — four in the past two matches — as the Crew (8-11-5) won two in a row for the first time in nearly a year.
"He's done it to weeks in a row now," Toronto forward Jeremy Brockie said of Higuain's chip. "Since I've been here in the league, he's the best player in the league I've seen and Columbus is lucky to have him."
Bendik's five saves kept TFC (4-12-8) in the match, and Toronto forward Robert Earnshaw gave credit to their opponents following the loss.
"Tactically, we have to give credit to (Columbus)," Earnshaw said. "They played well but at the same time we could have played better. They had good energy. Our energy could have been better.
"It was one of those nights. They were much better than us."
TFC did not have a shot on goal during the first 45 minutes of the match, but Nelsen implored his team at halftime to remember their last meeting on July 27 when Toronto shocked the Crew by scoring in the 87th minute and fourth minute of stoppage time for a 2-1 win at BMO Field.
"We talked about that at halftime," Brockie said. "There were a few heads down in the training room and Ryan said to us, 'Look, we may be losing, we may be playing but one goal and we're in it."
Instead, the Crew, who won 1-0 at Toronto on May 18, took the season series and the Trillium Cup competition between the teams as TFC lost for the second match in a row after two straight wins.
"We had a bad day at the office. They had a good day," Nelsen said. "We're not good enough where we can have an off day and get away with it. Hopefully, someday we'll be in that situation."
Toronto's next match is Aug. 24 at D.C. United.