Written by Gilda Doria in 2013
Updated and edited by Haley Amster in 2015
Chicharito: Forward, #14, 25 Years Old
Image Courtesy of: morethanshipping.com
BACKGROUND ON THE MEXICAN TEAM
Despite having qualified for a total of 14 World Cups- and every World Cup since 1994- Mexico has never advanced past the quarterfinals. In the last five World Cups, Mexico has been eliminated in the Round of 16.
Mexico almost didn’t qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Their poor performance placed their fate in the hands of other teams. The USA defeated Panama 3-2, pushing Mexico further into the qualifiers and making Mexico’s World Cup dreams feasible. Mexico then went on to defeat New Zealand in a two-legged playoff to secure their spot in Brazil .
While the Mexican team was very fortunate with the way the qualifiers paned out, they have lots of work to do in order to advance past group play next summer. Their qualifying record was rough- only winning one game, tying five, and losing two. Furthermore, the team has also been under close watch leading up to the 2014 World Cup as five players tested positive for a banned substance in the 2011 Gold Cup and eight more were expelled at the U-22 level for bringing prostitutes to their hotel.
Javier Hernandez, also known as “Chicharito,” was born on June 1, 1988 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was born into a family of football players, as his father and grandfather both played for the Mexican national team. Javier’s father was nicknamed “Chicharo,” or pea, for his green eyes. This landed Javier with the nickname “Chicharito”, or little pea. Javier Hernandez is the first Mexican player to join Manchester United, and he is clearly a great asset to the national team.
NATIONAL TEAM EXPERIENCE
Hernandez has been a member of the Mexican National Team since 2009, and he has become an integral part of the team. He secured his position in the eyes of head coach, Javier Aguirre, after scoring four goals in three games during some friendly matches against Bolivia, New Zealand, and North Korea in 2010. He has appeared in one World Cup thus far in his career- helping Mexico advance to the quarterfinal match of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He led the team in goals, finishing the tournament with two. In 2011, Hernandez emerged from the CONCACAF Gold Cup victorious, beating out the USA in the final. He finished the tournament with seven goals and was the MVP of the tournament as well as the Golden Boot award winner. Since getting his first cap in 2009, he has scored 35 goals for the national team .
Image courtesy of: morethanshipping.com
Hernandez signed his first professional contract at the age of 15. The beginning of his professional career at Chivas was a quiet one- he scored only one goal in 15 match appearances over a span of two seasons. His career began to pick up in 2009, when he became the joint-third top scorer with 11 goals in 17 games. 2010 proved to be an even stronger showing as he finished out the year with 10 goals in 11 games. During his time playing for the Mexican club, he scored 29 goals in 79 games.
His success in Mexico attracted international attention. Scouts from Manchester United began to pursue him during the fall of 2009 and his transfer was made official on July 1, 2010. Manchester United’s decision proved to be a successful one as Chicharito scored 20 goals in his debut season for United and won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award. His 13 goals in 2011 earned him the “World Goalgetter” award, beating out elite players such as Messi, Ronaldo, and Rossi . Over his four seasons with United, he has accumulated a total of 54 goals in 125 appearances and one Premier League title.
Chicharito is known as a “goal poacher” who terrorizes defenses with his pace and movement. He may not have always been in the spotlight coming off the bench when van Persie and Moye took the lead with Manchester United, but he did always deliver goals when called on in the Premier League. As ESPNFC pointed out he has a “knack of netting important, and often late, goals.” His great vision and natural goal scoring ability is something that will prove to be absolutely essential for Mexico next summer. The reason he was chosen as a player to watch for Mexico is because he does not wait for things to happen, he makes them happen. Pele praised the talented forward in 2011, explaining,“There is no doubt that Hernandez is a promising player. He is excellent, I have seen some games of his on television and he is a fantastic footballer.”  Can he continue to be fantastic in Brazil next summer? He will need to live up to his role of a clutch goal scorer if Mexico seeks to advance out of Group A.
POST-2014 WORLD CUP REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE
In their first match, against Cameroon, Mexico won 1-0. Chicharito wasn’t all that active in the game, although he attempted to score late in the match, but the ball went too high. In the next game, against Brazil, the real hero of the match was Mexican goalie Ochoa, who stopped several balls from going in and held the match to a tie game. Chicharito didn’t get much action in this game. Next, in the last match of the Group A stage, against Croatia, Mexico won 3-1, and this was where Chicharito got some attention. He headed in a goal late in the match, securing Mexico’s win and advancement out of Group A. Yet, in the Round of 16, Mexico was eliminated yet again, as they lost 1-2 to the Netherlands. Chicharito was fairly quiet in this match, with no highlights.
All in all, Chicharito didn’t make a ton of noise at the 2014 World Cup. His biggest shining moment was when he broke his one year dry spell of not scoring for the Mexican team, as he scored a goal in the match against Croatia. His presence on the field was often cited as a contributing factor to other goals, but ultimately, he was not a star of the World Cup .
Looking to the future, Chicharito’s lackluster performance in the 2014 World Cup may have contributed to his current conundrum. As the forward position has much competition within the Manchester United squad, Chicharito was sent on loan to Real Madrid for a season, where his playing time is on the decline. Chicharito is still on loan at Real Madrid, but he is looking for other teams to join.
How to cite this article: “Mexico: Javier Hernandez Balcazar, “Chicharito”,” Written by Gilda Doria (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).