The LA Galaxy will be hoping to make noise in next month’s MLS is Back Tournament. However, without an on fire Javier Hernandez, there will be no success for Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side.
The Los Angeles Galaxy are one of the premier teams in Major League Soccer. They have been throughout their existence. But it is an increasing number of years since their latest domination of the league. Since their MLS Cup victory in 2014, their third in four years, they have finished in the top four of the Western Conference just once and failed to qualify for the playoffs altogether twice in the past three seasons.
This is the most historic and well-respected team in the league not competing at the highest level. It is disastrous, even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic still demanding the headlines that few other players in the league can.
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Throw in the emergence of Los Angeles FC, the noisy neighbours who have finished above the Galaxy in both of their seasons as existence, as well as building the best team the league has ever seen with a sensational 2019 campaign, as the new elite team in the league, the LA Galaxy’s struggles are only more pertinent and noticeable.
Ahead of the 2020 season, however, Zlatan’s departure left a rather gaping hole in the LA Galaxy attack, changes needed to be made and new investment was required. The Galaxy turned to Mexican hero, Javier Hernandez. ‘Chicharito’ is a demi-god in Mexico. He was signed as much for his commercial potential as he was his footballing impact. But if the Galaxy are to find success this season, they will have to get the best out of Hernandez, who looked a little short of the pace in his first two outings of the season.
The Galaxy scored just once in their first two matches of the season. This included a 1-0 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps, who finished bottom of the West in a torrid 2019, in which they were roundly dominated. They rarely looked like scoring in either match, totalling an expected goals of 1.9, joint second-worst in the West.
Hernandez, meanwhile, played all 180 minutes of the season. He took just one shot with an expected goals of 0.04. That is not nearly sufficient enough for a player who should be one of the premier goalscorers in the division, someone who relies on a high number of shots. Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, though, is not too concerned, as he told reporters via mlssoccer.com this week:
“The reason we looked for a player like [Chicharito] is for his presence in our group, the example he shows, his professionalism and his goal. If the team plays well, he’ll score goals. He’ll be fine. We’re really calm, even if he didn’t score a goal in his first two games.”
Whether Barros Schelotto should be so relaxed about Hernandez’s prospect or not remains to be seen. But if the LA Galaxy do want to find success in the MLS is Back Tournament, they will have to get Chicharito going, and thus far, there has been little proof that they can do.