NEW YORK — Less than a year ago, the legend of Javier Hernández in a Manchester United kit was born.
It was July 28, 2010 — the MLS All-Star Game — and the Mexican international forward was a second-half substitute for the Red Devils, running out to a standing ovation from the heavy Mexican presence at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The player known affectionately as “Chicharito” was making his Manchester United debut after starring for CD Guadalajara and El Tri over the previous 12 months.
In the 84th minute, he scored the fifth goal in his club’s 5-2 win over the MLS All-Stars, and he hasn’t stopped scoring since.
Now on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena, almost a year to the day of his Manchester United debut, Chicharito will again face the MLS All-Stars and he knows it will be a tall order.
“My first game with Manchester United was with the MLS All-Stars,” Hernández said during Monday’s All-Star press conference. “We need to play a very good game because they are a team with many good players.”
The MLS side is aware of the quality they will face Wednesday night, and they know Chicharito well. The young striker has been performing at a high level since his Old Trafford arrival last summer with his form carrying over to international play. He scored 20 times in 45 appearances for the Red Devils last year, and added another eight goals for Mexico in that time-span.
Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry, who will face Chicharito for the first time on Wednesday night, said the forward poses a threat to the All-Stars.
“He’s an old-fashioned striker,” Henry said. “That’s all he wants is to score goals. Going to Manchester United and doing what he did is amazing.”
Chicharito is joining his teammates for the first time this preseason, having had a month vacation after helping guide Mexico to a Gold Cup championship in June. Sir Alex Ferguson called the time off for his young star “much deserved” and now Chicharito is rested and focused on the season ahead — and trying to get Manchester United their 20th English Premier League title.
“The only thing in my mind is to work hard every day,” Hernández said. “It’s a dream come true for me. I only want to keep improving.”
Former Manchester United midfielder and current LA Galaxy star David Beckham has been watching Chicharito’s rise to stardom and is impressed with the player’s conduct on and off the field.
“He deserves everything he’s achieved so far,” Beckham said. “He’s a great player and a great lad.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer