CARSON, Calif. — LA Galaxy fans have been clamoring for a glimpse of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and finally got it, albeit a brief one, at Saturday’s Victoria Block Party and open training session at Dignity Health Sports Park.
An enthusiastic crowd — Galaxy officials said they received more than 9,000 RSVP’s for the event — watched the Mexican sensation train with his new club but only on the side as he awaits receipt of his visa. A team staffer said that could come as early as Monday or Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Hernandez, who joined the five-time MLS Cup champions on Jan. 21 following his stint with Spanish side Sevilla, said everything has been “great, great” as he grows accustomed to his new surroundings. But it has been a little hectic, he admitted.
“We know all about this lovely city and, of course, the biggest club in MLS,” he told reporters. “They give you all the help you can have in your life to adapt as quickly as possible.
“I’m very glad, I’m very happy and, of course, hopefully I can buy a house quickly because in two weeks the season is going to start.”
The Galaxy opens the regular season Feb. 29 in Houston and Hernandez is hoping he will be ready to go even though he has been forced to work out on his own with team trainers while visa difficulties are ironed out. Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said he thinks Hernandez will be available for the club’s first preseason match against Toronto FC on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. at Dignity Health Sports Park.
“I think he will have time to get into the team and get to know each other before the game with Houston,” Schelotto said Saturday.
Hernandez, asked if he has had any indication when his visa will be secured, smiled.
“That’s not my job,” he said with a grin. “I’m just waiting and training and whenever they tell me your visa’s here and you can start training with the team, you can do it.”
Schelotto, in his second year with the club, said he already likes what he has seen from Hernandez despite the limited training. He also said he has blended in as well as he had thought when the Galaxy acquired him just over two weeks ago.
“He’s a significant player,” he said.
Midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who just returned from training with the U.S. men’s national team, said Hernandez has been accepted seamlessly, not that he expected any problems in that regard.
“So far, so good,” Lletget said. “He’s a great personality. In the short time we’ve interacted he’s been awesome. More than anything he’s going to fit in with us because we’re a hard-working group and he’s a hard worker.
“He’s a great guy. More than anything I think that’s what we’re going to take out of him. He’s going to be a No. 9 who’s not only going to score goals but work hard on defense.”
Hernandez said he can’t wait until he’s allowed to participate in full training, but he doesn’t want to push things.
“I need to be patient. It’s out of my hands,” he said. “A lot of people are doing the best they can so I can get my visa. Hopefully, I can get it tomorrow, the next week, whatever.
“I’m going to be ready.”