Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez could have opted out of the MLS is Back Tournament.
With a 1-year-old son and a second child on the way, no one would have blamed Hernandez if he decided to remain in Los Angeles.
Major League Soccer said that players could opt out of the tournament for various reasons and many have, like reigning MVP Carlos Vela (LAFC), Minnesota United FC defender Ike Opara, and the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Lucas Cavallini and Fredy Montero. Those are just some of the big names that did not accompany their teams to Florida.
Hernandez said it was a tough decision to leave his family, but he didn’t want to compare his decision to Vela’s, a close friend.
“I go way back with Carlos, many years and we are great friends,” Hernandez said Saturday during a Zoom conference with reporters. “We’ve had a lot of contact during this pandemic. I don’t want for people to think that I took a really good decision and Carlos didn’t.
“Both decisions are positive, both are completely respectable and neither is better or worse than the other. The reality is that Carlos will have his chance to talk if he wants or not about why he took the decision … I’m happy that he’s taken the best decision for him and his family. I don’t want people to praise or value me more because I came and him for staying.”
Chicharito checks in with his wife and son via FaceTime and the Galaxy helped her brother travel to Los Angeles to live while the club is away.
Even as the Galaxy wrap up preparation for Monday’s Group F opener against the Portland Timbers (7:30 p.m., FS1), life inside the bubble has been anything but normal.
“Honestly, if I didn’t feel safe I wouldn’t be here and even less so with the situation at home with my son and a pregnancy,” Chicharito said. “MLS is trying to do the best to prevent us from getting the virus and to keep us safe, and we’re all trying to do our best.”
“I’ve been watching Netflix, playing Call of Duty, FIFA a lot too, relaxing … You can relax. Obviously you can’t go out and have a normal life, but we all knew that before.”
FC Dallas and Nashville SC have both withdrawn due to positive COVID-19 tests. Just moments before Sunday’s game between DC United and Toronto FC was scheduled to begin, MLS reported that the tests for both teams revealed one positive and one inconclusive test for another player leading to a postponement.
Also, Sporting Kansas City had one player test positive Thursday and was placed in quarantine. The rest of the players all received negative test results for Sunday’s game against Minnesota United.
“It is a shame that two teams had to drop out,” Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget said. “The league has done the best as they could for this to be a safe place. … It was a little scary at first, but the mission stays the same, we’ve come here to win and we have a good opportunity to get off to a good start and hopefully build off of that.”
That’s something the Galaxy didn’t do when the regular season started back in February. The Galaxy opened with a 1-1 draw against Houston and then suffered a 2-1 loss to Vancouver. Days after that loss, the regular season was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We didn’t get off to the best start and this almost feels like we’re starting from scratch,” Lletget said. “We have to deal with what we’ve got and keep moving forward.”
GALAXY vs. PORTLAND
TV: Fox Sports 1, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Galaxy will miss midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, who had hernia surgery and didn’t make the trip. Keep an eye on a pair of 17-year-old midfielders (Cameron Dunbar and Jonathan Perez) both have joined the first team on the trip. Both were signed as Homegrown Players in February.