The Los Angeles Galaxy is at a crossroads that enters the 2020 MLS season. They fell short of title expectations last year and, to make things even more complicated, lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Milan. The Swede scored 53 goals in 58 games for Galaxy during his two-year term on American soil.
The impact of Zlatan's departure is enormous for the Galaxy. But the Californian franchise also lost Favio Alvarez (to Pumas UNAM) and Uriel Antuna (to Chivas Guadalajara) also this season. They needed an initial boost before the 2020 campaign. On paper, it looks like they secured it with the arrival of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
The Mexico international is a longtime idol in the CONCACAF region not only because of his performances at El Tri, but also because he opened the door to other Mexican players abroad. He records stints at Manchester United and Real Madrid during his career. However, he has been going out for several years, where he was unable to meet expectations on his shoulders. He scored just four goals in 17 games for Sevilla in all competitions during the first half of the 2019-20 season before sealing the Galaxy move.
Will Chicharito be a success at the MLS level?
Make no mistake here: Chicharito will be an instant hit in Los Angeles. He still has above average technical and physical characteristics to play at a decent level in MLS. But he is not the goal scoring machine he was during his days at Manchester United. There's a good chance the Galaxy will bring someone whose peak may be what it did in Leverkusen. Hernandez has scored 39 goals in 76 games in all Bundesliga competitions.
The 31-year-old Mexican player is still in his early years, and he must play at the highest level for two or three years, at least while playing against lesser competition – compared to what he faced in Germany and England , at least. And if he delivers, it would justify the fact that he is the highest paid player in the league.
In terms of marketing, Chicharito will be an absolute success. He could also play at a very high level. But he is not the player they need if they want to replace Ibrahimovic. MLS may never have another player like Zlatan in a long, long time.