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Chicharito: the striker LA Galaxy need; not the Mexico NT

The Mexican striker’s goal scoring abilities may still work in the MLS, but a World Cup is a whole different story.

Seattle Sounders FC v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images

The Mexican National Team have been in dire need of a goalscorer. And Chicharito has been scoring goals, right? I mean, not like top MLS goalscorer goals, but good enough for 5th overall, which hey, is still a great honor. His club have only two regular season matches left, so probably safe to say he won’t be winning the MLS scoring title this year, but it’s still not an achievement that should be left unmentioned. He’s been a key part to his club’s mild success this season and credit where credit is due.

On Saturday night (the same night as the Mexico NT friendly vs. Peru), LA Galaxy visited the San Jose Earthquakes and came away with a vital road victory in their playoff pursuit by a final score of 3-2 thanks to a couple goals from Hernández. Now, without taking credit away from the striker, his first goal was more a lucky bounce and deflection than anything. Not only did he make a bad reception inside the box, but that bad reception made his defender miss, followed by Hernández punching the ball in any direction with no true intention. That poked shot was deflected and thanks to that, went in the far side. So in short, a lot of luck on that one. See for yourself.

Now, his second goal had a lot more quality attached to it for sure, not to mention the deciding strike, making it impossible for the keeper to react. But more importantly, I find myself asking how two attackers all on their own could just go untouched through five opposing defenders. That’s right, FIVE. If you look closely at the Earthquakes defense in the following video, that’s called lazy defending. Just about anyone could’ve gotten through that 5-man group of defenders. They were just standing around and let Chicha slice through. But literally, no contest. Again, see for yourself.

Putting aside his clown celebration antics, Hernández performed well on Saturday. He even had a great chance to put his team up 4-1, but sent that shot wide. Because of this and other good performances throughout the season, many fans and critics have clamored to Tata Martino begging for his calling up to the World Cup roster. It’s important to not get fooled here.

Sure, he’ll score on these weak, error-prone MLS defenders. and that’s good. He’s in a league that suits him and allows him to be a huge difference maker. But when the season or cup is on the line, facing a tight defense with little to no space, we’ve seen Hernández disappear completely from matches. And not only has he disappeared, but the little chances he does have, he misses in an embarrassing manner, just like he did in the 2014 WC Qualifiers or in the 2018 World Cup itself. In those important matches against the strong teams, a bad reception won’t end in a ‘through the legs’ miss by the defender, leaving you open for a shot inside the box. And five defenders won’t stand around while you run through them. It’s just not comparable. Not even close.

Now, over the past months, reports have surfaced explaining that Martino has kept Chicharito off the Mexico roster not because of his performances, but due to a disciplinary issue back in September 2019, which also coincides with the last time he dressed for El Tri. September 7th to be exact, when he scored his last National Team goal in a 3-0 victory against USA. In the Argentina friendly just days later, he was benched in favor of Raúl Jiménez and wouldn’t dress again.

It’s said that Chicharito was the main organizer of an outing he and others (Miguel Layún, Guillermo Ochoa, Héctor Moreno) were part of just hours before the USA match in New Jersey. An FMF logistics member, Andrés Mateos, was even fired over this as it’s said he was the main facilitator of this even happening. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it’s said Mateos also helped Hernández book a couple of their outing friends on the same plane to San Antonio where Mexico would face Argentina. That didn’t sit well with FMF front office or Martino for that matter.

Whether this is the true version of his separation or it’s on Martino simply not liking his style, the reality is Hernández just doesn’t fit in the National Team today. Despite his goal scoring in MLS, we know the required skill against the Argentinas, Germanies, and Brazils of the world just isn’t there. And the goals he scored on Saturday are proof of that. You need higher types of skill sets to defeat these historic teams, and even though Mexico is limited at the position, I applaud Martino for trying something different, no matter how it may turn out. It isn’t enough to know how to move without the ball (which Chicha does very well).

No matter what happens in Qatar, Mexico’s roster and playing style has changed. You no longer have your Layun, Vela, Aguilar, Guardado (in his peak), and others to send crosses in to Hernández, allowing for him to just hang around the box. This team’s style has adjusted, and a Raúl Jiménez type player with much more skill on the ball at the position is now required to fit with this style of play, as Martino likes to circulate the ball a lot. With a definite shortage at the forward position (that includes Chicharito), this World Cup might be the biggest challenge yet that Mexico has faced in a few decades.