Javier Hernandez after injuring his knee on June 7, in Sandy, Utah.Chris Gardner (Getty Images)
Nightmare season for the Galaxy. The Los Angeles team announced Friday morning that its captain, Mexican Javier Chicharito Hernández, has suffered a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the right knee. The 35-year-old forward will undergo surgery on a date yet to be determined, but will be absent from the team for the rest of the MLS season and will miss the Leagues Cup, which was to face this summer for the first time the 29 teams of the American league with the 18 of Mexican soccer. The rehabilitation time of the injury and the age of the player threaten the continuity of his career.
The Chicharito incident happened on Wednesday, when the Galaxy were playing a Lamar Hunt Open Cup semifinal match against Utah's Real Salt Lake. The injury happened without contact, when Hernández ran at minute 23.00 of the first half in search of a pass that Riqui Puig gave him outside the rival area. The images show that he stretches his left leg to stop the ball and when he places his feet on the grass to continue the stride he drops defeated by pain. Immediately, he asks for help from the bench so that the team doctors can enter. He left the camp on a stretcher and with his face covered by a towel. On Thursday night, he underwent an MRI to assess the severity of the injury.
Kevin Baxter, the Los Angeles Times reporter covering the Galaxy, says it's a grade three injury, meaning the patellar tendon is completely torn and needs to be repaired after a surgical procedure. This type of injury threatens the continuity of the players for their rehabilitation time, which ranges from six to nine months. One of the most famous success stories was that of Ronaldo Nazario, who suffered it in April 2000 in the first minutes of a meeting of his team, Inter, with Lecce. The striker had the break in the same knee that now puts on hold the trajectory of Hernández, the top scorer of the Mexican national team and who has not played with the team since September 2019. The Brazilian registered it with 23 years, recovered from it against all odds and was able to continue a successful career known by all thanks to his nickname: The phenomenon.
Hernandez has been dealing with injuries in his 17th year as a professional. Calf discomfort caused him to miss the Galaxy's first five starts this season. Chicharito arrived in American soccer in January 2020, when he left Sevilla to reinforce one of the most emblematic teams in MLS in a signing that touched 20 million dollars. He traded Spanish football, where he had played nine games in the season, for a central role as a starter and the third highest paid in the competition. He also arrived with his reputation as a goalscorer. In his first year he scored seven goals. But he found himself more comfortable on his return to North America. In 2021 he scored 20 times and last year recorded his best year since arriving in the United States. He scored 31 goals in 32 games played.
The injury to Chicharito, who has scored just seven goals this season, is bad news for the Galaxy, the team that has won the most titles in MLS with five in nine finals played. This year, however, they are sunk deep in the table. With three wins and nine draws in 15 games they are in the basement, a place they share with Inter Miami, which this week has made the most coveted signing in the football world, that of Lionel Messi.
The Galaxy's sporting woes, which included its first home loss to arch-foe LAFC, had led to a tense divorce with its fans. Supporters organized into five official bars had called for a boycott of the team until the organization fired its president, Chris Klein, who has served as a scapegoat for the poor performance. This pulse made that, at the end of May, the Galaxy announced the departure of the executive. The historic club, which last held a championship in 2014, is looking for a new president to lead them. And this week it has also lost for the next few months a leader on the court and an offensive engine.
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