Chicharito Hernández Steps Up


No one has started the season hotter than Javier Hernandez

If you’re a striker whose national team has historically had trouble finding the net, and you are on an absolute white-hot tear, life is pretty good for you. The fact that it is happening right before a world cup is monumental. Javier Hernández, you could not have picked a better time in your career to showcase your stuff.

Chivas has won its first three games of the season for the first time in over 10 years. And in each of the victories, young Mr. Hernández, “El chicharito”, if you will, has tallied a brace in each of the three games. I know what some of you are thinking, it’s only a matter of time before he cools off. And you are right. No one can keep up a 2 goals per game average. But it is not as if this is a fluke either.

The 21 year old striker has started 27 games for Chivas. In those starts, he has scored 17 of his 19 goals. A little more than ½ a goal per start. He was the top national goal-scorer in the league last season, scoring 11 of Chivas’ 23 goals. So the boy can score. Chicharito is Chiva legacy (his grandfather played on the campeonisimo teams of the 50's), and his epithet is such because his father, El Chicharo Hernandez, had pea green eyes. As the son, he is given the diminutive version of said nickname.

Chicharito has proven to be the very rare well-rounded striker. He can score with both feet, he has a great snap header, and he is very sly at beating the off-side trap. He creates his own holes, he poaches, he out-jumps, he does everything a good striker is supposed to do. And most importantly, he scores.

But can he do it with the Tri?

The truth is, we have no idea. Chicharito has only been capped once since he turned professional. He came on as sub last fall at the Cotton Bowl and served up an assist in Mexico’s 2-1 defeat to the Cafeteros. One of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable friendly. Thanks to Mexico’s robust world cup prep, he’ll have plenty of games to prove that not only that he belongs, but that he can also handle the pressure. I think he can. His detractors say his is too young and inexperienced to carry such a burden. I disgagree. There have been plenty of youngsters who have excelled on the world cup stage: Whiteside, Scifo, Owen, and Donovan seemed to do okay. And they were younger when they got the chance.

If he can handle playing and starring for Chivas at such a young age, then this should be another opportunity to relish. There is more to it than finding the back of the net, though. Lesser players have been crushed the 100 million soul weight of expectation. If he keeps scoring goals, there’ll be more mics at his locker during the week, the inevitable endorsement obligations will eat up his time(y’all should really watch a little Mexican TV in the months before a world cup. Every commercial and every show are world cup related. It is impressive), and everyone he sees on the streets will ask him (or threaten him like Porky in Rudo y Cursi) to get those goals in South Africa.

If he can navigate that labyrinth with relative ease, wouldn’t it be great, then, if the word Chicharito became as famous as the word Schilacci?

And, yes, that was a massive sunshine pump.