LA Galaxy coach Greg Vanney welcomed the return of Javier Hernandez in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids.
The Mexican striker had been sidelined with calf problems since his brace in Galaxy’s Cali Clasico win over San Jose Earthquakes in late June and had missed 12 games during that time.
Chicharito finally returned to the field on Saturday, playing 62 minutes in the Galaxy stalemate against Colorado. Despite not scoring a goal, the 33-year-old was a threat who gave his teammates a chance and attempted two shots.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Vanney gave a positive assessment of Chicharito’s comeback performance.
“I thought he looked good. He gave us the experience we needed on a day like today, sometimes by just holding the ball up and bringing some people over, and I thought his job was good,” said Vanney.
“We extended his recovery for a while so he was physically fine. We had played 11 against 11 last weekend and he played 45 [minutes], and we knew he was pretty comfortable at 45 and we wanted to split the game up.
“It was kind of a first thought that due to the challenge of the conditions, the heat, the altitude and everything else, we would put three guys in early in the second half or in the middle of the second half. A fresh group up there, which was really the main reason .
“But he felt fine physically and fine in terms of fitness too. It wasn’t always the fastest pace from end to end so he didn’t have to sprint all over the place and we didn’t have high presses all over the place. We were one a bit high, but we didn’t necessarily have a high pressing. So he was good and he feels good now. “
The Galaxy are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference and although a playoff spot has not yet been secured, they are in good shape.
Now that his star striker is back in action, Vanney says the focus will be on managing Chicharito’s minutes to ensure he can make an impact in the busy regular season preliminary round – LA scores on Wednesday in the second of three games on Houston Dynamo in seven days.
“We know this is a busy week so we didn’t want to use it all up in one game because we know we’ll be back in the middle of the week,” added Vanney. “The more we save before him today, the more we get from him on Wednesday because it’s been a while since he played. It was great to see him out there again because he’s an important part of this group . “
Given his long time on the sideline, it’s incredible that Chicharito is just four goals away from MLS Golden Boot leader Raul Ruidiaz, scoring 10 goals in 10 games before his injury.
If he can stay fit from now on, there is no doubt that ex-Man Utd and Real Madrid strikers are favorites to top the MLS scorers’ list.