What we all knew was finally confirmed.
Mexico has announced its preliminary squad for the 2022 World Cup and, while not unexpected, there are some glaring omissions. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer, will not be on the plane to Qatar in November. And it has nothing to do with real football.
If you’re trying to figure this out, don’t.
Since arriving in the Major Leagues, Hernandez has been one of the most consistent players at what he does best – score runs. His first season in 2020 was a tumultuous one as he dealt with personal issues that affected his performances. He bounced back and scored 17 goals the following season, just two short of the Golden Boot winner, even though he missed a lot of time through injury.
This year, he scored 18 points to lead the LA Galaxy to fourth place in the Western Conference, the franchise’s best since 2016.
Playing in LA reminds Chicharito how much Mexicans love him. Even rival LAFC fans, hoping to hide a photo or autograph, sidestep the club’s vested interests. His status as a Mexican legend is etched in stone.
However, ask disgruntled head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino about Hernandez and he’ll tell you he’s decided to go with other strikers.
Rogelio Funes Mori, Alexis Vega, Henry Martin and Jesus Corona are some of the players selected instead. Corona, however, is still injured after breaking his fibula during the summer, as is Raul Jimenez. Martino said he would wait until the “last minute” for Jimenez and Corona to recover from their injuries before deciding whether they would join the squad for Qatar.
But through the qualifiers and friendlies, it’s clear that El Tri’s biggest concern is in the final third. Creating chances and scoring points became a headache, and it was a big conversation when you couldn’t give the country’s most iconic man a chance to help.
It was the pride and stubbornness of the coach that kept Tata out of the lineup no matter what he spat with Chicharito. Hernandez, unlike his Los Angeles counterpart Carlos Vela, still hopes to wear the El Tri jersey.
She was recently on Instagram with famous Mexican Formula 1 driver Sergio “Checo” Perez and hinted about it again. Checo jokingly asked Chicharito, “When are you going to the World Cup?”
“It’s not up to me, you know that,” Hernandez laughed in response. My bag is ready, but you know it’s out of my control. I did everything I could.’
“You deserve it more than anyone else,” Checo replied to many outside the Mexican Football Federation’s decision-makers.
Let’s be clear, Chicharito won’t magically solve any problems for El Tri. It’s about disrespecting and shutting down a player of his caliber. Throughout his decorated career he has played on major stages around the world.
When Mexico opens its tournament against Poland on Nov. 22, he will be watching from afar rather than getting a chance to help.
And you can bet Chicharito’s name will be at the top of many conversations during the slightest bit of fan trouble. Poland have a world-class striker in Robert Lewandowski. Among Argentina’s biggest stars, Angel Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez and Paulo Dybala, there is a guy named Lionel Messi.
The 34-year-old striker, who has played for clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, would look good in this group. A player known as one of the most dynamic players in the game, especially due to his moves in the final third.
That ship sailed for Hernandez in his last World Cup.
Regardless of the situation, Chicharito hopes Mexico will run with whoever takes the field.
And Mexico will root for him, as usual, in a completely different way.