Dillon Payne

GESM On-the-Ground: Chicharito’s Home Debut

Undoubtedly Major League Soccer’s marquee signing this offseason, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez joined the Galaxy after ten years in Europe playing for the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Bayer Leverkusen among others. The Chicharito press tour began in earnest last week with appearances on Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden it seemed that everywhere you looked, he was present. This press tour all culminated with the LA Galaxy’s home opener on Saturday, March 7th vs Vancouver Whitecaps.

Because of this, and his decade as the star of the Mexican National Team, there was an air of excitement surrounding that game. Luckily, I was able to be on the ground at Dignity Health Sports Park (DHSP) to experience what his home debut meant to Galaxy, El Tri, and soccer fans alike.

26,382 fans packed into DHSP the energy was apparent. Interestingly, I did not notice fans wearing El Tri gear which to me suggests that local non-MLS Mexican fans have not been motivated to support the Galaxy yet. Rather, it seemed his signing energized a base of Mexican LA Galaxy fans who helped create an excited and loud in-stadium atmosphere.

Unfortunately, Hernandez did not get many opportunities to get the Galaxy fans on their feet in the same manner that Landon Donovan or David Beckham did with every touch. However, it was clear with every cross that every fan at DHSP waited on bated breath to see if the ball would find Chicha. The moment of exaltation that we all waited for never came as the Galaxy ended up losing 1-0 to Vancouver.

Regardless, I left the match excited at the opportunity MLS has on its hands with a regional superstar. Each week Liga MX continues to pull in higher TV ratings in the U.S. than MLS (and all other leagues), but that may all change now with purposeful marketing of El Tri superstars like Jonathan Dos Santos, Chicharito, Rodolfo Pizarro, and Carlos Vela. We’ll see in the long run how they may elevate the league domestically. If in-stadium energy is anything to go by then the league is certainly in a good starting place.

Categories: Just For Fun, Major League Soccer, Uncategorized