Bruce Arena on Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez: Wouldn't be MLS best player
LOS ANGELES — New England Revolution manager Bruce Arena said that he doesn’t feel Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez would be the best player in MLS, should he sign with the LA Galaxy.
Reports continue to swirl that the Galaxy are poised to sign the Mexico international from La Liga side Sevilla FC. Hernandez would certainly create a massive marketing opportunity given the large contingent of Mexico expatriates in the area.
“I think [Chicharito] would be a great addition to the league,” Arena told ESPN during MLS Media Day. “The commitment that [the Galaxy] make financially is their business and all, but I lived in the LA market for the last 10 years. They’ve wanted Chicharito here for a long time, and he’s going to be a natural in this market.”
But in terms of ability, Arena feels lots of teams have their own Chicharito.
“We have a lot of good players [in MLS],” said Arena. “[LAFC’s] Carlos Vela would probably have an argument there. I have an excellent player, Carles Gil, in New England. But if you think about it, just about every team in the league has outstanding players. I think Chicharito would be a good addition. I wouldn’t think that he’d be the best player in the league.”
Arena managed the U.S. men’s national team on two occasions, leading the U.S. to the World Cup in 2002 and 2006, but failing to get the team to the 2018 edition of the tournament. With MLS now heading into its 25th season, Arena feels the league “has helped” the trajectory of the national team, but can do more.
“We have to grow our domestic players better than we have,” he said. “If we can do better with our academy programs, developing our young players, positioning them to play for our first team, it will only help the national team program. Right now, it needs to get better, and hopefully, it does.”
Yet many teams in MLS seem to be relying even more heavily on foreign players to fill attacking positions, a sentiment that Arena acknowledged.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure on clubs to be successful, make the playoffs,” he said. “Most of the time, it hurts the development of young players.”
In terms of the current state of the U.S. men’s national team, Arena said it was “not great, but it’s not terrible.”
Yet Arena is highly confident that the U.S. will qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll qualify for the next World Cup,” he said. “I think the way the format is set up for qualification, I think they’ll be positioned to qualify.”
Arena acknowledged that the last two years have been difficult for the U.S., but says the focus should be on looking forward.
“It really doesn’t matter what the last two years have been like,” he said. “What’s important is how they play in 2020 and 2021 to qualify for the World Cup.”