Mexican goal-scoring star Chicharito signs with LA Galaxy

  • In Sports/Soccer
  • 2020-01-21 18:38:31Z
  • By GREG BEACHAM (AP Sports Writer)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The LA Galaxy have signed Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, bringing the Mexican star back to North America after a lengthy career in Europe.

The Galaxy announced the long-gestating deal Tuesday for Hernández. The striker will participate in his first training session Thursday.

Hernández is a designated player for the Galaxy and the effective replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who signed with AC Milan this winter after two outstanding seasons stateside. He will also be a compelling rival to Carlos Vela, who won the MLS MVP award last season during a record-setting performance for Los Angeles FC, the Galaxy's upstart crosstown foes.

The 31-year-old Hernández is the top goal-scorer in the history of the Mexican national team, which has a fervent following among Los Angeles' expansive Latino population. His arrival in Major League Soccer also is another boon for the league in its attempts to compete with Liga MX, Mexico's top professional division and the most-watched pro league in the U.S.

"Javier has consistently scored goals in top leagues throughout the world and has been his country's most successful player over the last decade," said Dennis te Kloese, the Galaxy's general manager and the former director of national teams for the Mexican Football Federation. "We think he can be one of Major League Soccer's best attacking threats and help our team in multiple ways."

Hernández had been with Sevilla since last September, appearing in only nine matches while struggling to get consistent playing time in La Liga. He joined the Spanish club after two seasons with West Ham in the Premiership, where his playing time also declined in his second year.

Hernández also has played for Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen since leaving Chivas in his native Guadalajara in 2010. He scored 59 goals in four seasons for Manchester United, and he added nine goals during one season on loan with Real in 2014-15.

But after a solid stint with Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, his production hasn't matched his vaunted reputation in the past three seasons. He will have every opportunity to show off his formidable goal-scoring skill with the Galaxy, who need his talents at the center of Argentine coach Guillermo Barros Schlelotto's attack.

The Galaxy lost their top two goal-scorers from last season, with Ibrahimovic returning to Europe and Uriel Antuna moving to Chivas. Nobody else on the Galaxy's roster scored more than four goals last season, although Argentine forward Cristian Pavón showed immense promise in 13 games as a midseason acquisition from Boca Juniors.

Hernández's move to the Galaxy will lead to a reunion with midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos, his friend and teammate with the Mexican national team.

The Galaxy returned to the MLS playoffs in 2019 after an embarrassing two-year absence for the five-time MLS champions. They lost to LAFC in the Western Conference semifinals in the latest chapter in the clubs' burgeoning rivalry.

Hernández has scored a record 52 goals in 109 appearances for El Tri while appearing in the last three World Cups. He was named the CONCACAF Men's Player of the Year in 2015.

Hernández's nickname means "little pea." He is named in honor of his father, Javier "Chicharo" Hernández, who had an 18-year pro career in Mexico.


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