Chicharito will return to the lineup for Sunday’s Cali-Clasico. How many minutes will he play? That’s up to the coach.
All you need to know about LA Galaxy striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is he’s ready.
On Thursday, he pronounced himself available to play in Sunday’s game in San Jose at Earthquakes Stadium (8 p.m., UniMas). Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, of course, will make the final decision on the number of minutes he’ll give to the 32-year-old who has not played since late July, when he suffered a calf injury that forced him to return to Southern California from the recent MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla.
“I’m very calm in my return,” he told reporters in Spanish as the Galaxy look to make it five consecutive wins. Sunday’s game is a rematch of the teams’ earlier meeting, won by the Galaxy 3-2 on Aug. 29 at Dignity Health Sports Park. “You guys have seen the level of the team … I’m content to just return and contribute my grain of sand.”
It has not been the smoothest of debuts for Hernandez, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer who signed a designated player contract on Jan. 21. He played in three games, all starts, but scored only one goal before injuring his right calf. What initially was thought to be just a strain turned out to be a very severe second-degree tear, Hernandez revealed, but he has been training with the team for just under a week and has had no problems in workouts.
“The percentage of how fit I am,” he said, “I’m completely fit in the way of my (right) calf is completely fine. I’ve been training with the team for four days now. I’m feeling pretty good, nothing at all.
“I’m going to be available probably for this weekend. If it’s one minute, 15, 50, 90 or whatever, I’m going to try to do my best to maintain that rhythm that level the team is showing in the last games, that we are winning a lot.
“Defensively, the team is improving a lot and offensively as well. We’re scoring a lot of goals. I think the team is getting to that point when we all want to show we can be one of the best teams and can win a championship as well.”
Schelotto was non-committal when asked for the status of Hernandez’s “availability” this weekend. But he did say he’s been impressed with the striker’s recent practice sessions.
“He’s training very well, he has no problem with the calf,” Schelotto said. “He’s ready; I don’t know how long he can be ready … we need to check tomorrow and talk with him, then we will decide what to do.
“He’s on (the roster) for the 20 players to go San Jose. We will review the training today, tomorrow, then we’ll decide.”
Hernandez said he’s taken great pride in the Galaxy’s steady rise up the Western Conference standings, even though he’s been able to do nothing but watch over the past several weeks.
“It’s an historic team that’s won a lot of titles. And to have a team like the Galaxy rising again is good for MLS, good for its players, and it’s beautiful to be part of this,” he said. “I have confidence and the responsibility to help it do well.”
Hernandez also said he has had no problem staying mentally prepared, even though he’s been on the outside looking in during the team’s recent revival.
“My love for the game, that’s it,” he said. “I love playing this sport, and I want to do the best I can. That’s it. Yesterday was my 14th anniversary since I debuted in this lovely sport. It’s just that, the love of the game.”