What we all knew was finally confirmed.
Mexico has announced its squad ahead of the 2022 World Cup, and it’s a stark omission, though not surprising. Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, Mexico’s all-time leading goal scorer, will not be on that plane in Qatar in November. And he has nothing to do with it.
If you’re trying to make sense of it, don’t.
Since arriving in the Major League Soccer, Hernández has been one of the most consistent players at what he does best — scoring goals. His first season in 2020 was tumultuous as he navigated personal issues that affected his performances. He returned and scored 17 goals in the following season, falling just two short of the golden Booz winner, and even after missing an extended period of the season due to injury.
He scored 18 goals this year and led the LA Galaxy to a fourth-place finish in the Western Conference, the franchise’s best since 2016.
Playing in LA also reminds Chicharito how much Mexicans love him. Even rival LAFC fans would tear down the club when the benefits came down hoping to get a picture or an autograph. His status in Mexican legend is attached to the stone.
However, you ask head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino de Hernández and he will tell you that he simply decided to go with the other strikers.
Rogelio Funes Mori, Alexis Vega, Henricus Martin and Jesús Corona are some of the players in the position he chose. But Corona is still injured after breaking his hamstring over the summer like Raul Jimenez. Martino has stated that he will wait until the “last minute” to decide whether Jimenez and Corona’s injuries will be treated if they join the Qatari team.
But through the qualification and the friendly, it is clear that El Tri’s biggest concern is in the final third. It was a chance creation and scoring header, and also a big talking point, not giving someone so iconic to the region the chance to help.
Whatever internal spewing Tata has with Chicharito, it was the coach’s pride and defiance that kept him in the white. Hernández, unlike his Los Angeles counterpart Carlos Vela, still has hope of pulling off the El Tri jersey.
Recently on Instagram with the popular Mexican Formula 1 driver Sergio “Checo” Pérez hinted again. Checo jokingly asks Chicharito, “when are you going to the World Cup?”
Hernandez laughed in response: “That’s not up to me, you know. I have my bags ready, but you know that is not in my power. I am all possible.”
Checo responded with many, except for the decision-making vehicles in the Mexican Federation, they feel: “You deserve more than anyone.”
Let’s make this clear, Chicharito will not magically fix the problems for El Tri. It is more about the insults and the scraping of the quality of the game itself. One that has played on major stages around the world in her decorated career.
When Mexico opens its tournament on Nov. 22 against Poland, he will be looking far to get a chance to help.
And you better believe that in the smallest moments of pain from the fans, Chicharito’s name will be at the forefront of many conversations. Poland has a world striker in Robert Lewandowski. Argentina has a guy named Lionel Messi, among other great stars like Angel Di María, Lautaro Martínez and Paulo Dybala.
The 34-year-old striker, who has played for clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, has been looking for assets in that group. Especially for a player who is known to be one of the most dynamic in his game with his movements in the final third.
That ship sailed for Hernandez in what was likely to be his last World Cup.
Given the situation, Chicharito will be happy in Mexico so I hope to run with him who is in the field.
And Mexico will root for him, as always, in a very different way.