Javier Hernandez: Qualifier Against Honduras Is Major Test for Chicharito

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2013

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 22:  Javier Hernandez of Mexico looks on during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Japan and Mexico at Estadio Mineirao on June 22, 2013 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

If Javier Hernandez wants to prove his worth to the Mexico national team, he needs to have a big game against Honduras.

El Tri are at a crucial juncture. They welcome in Honduras on Friday night and travel to Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday to try and secure an automatic spot in the 2014 World Cup. Anything less than four points would be a problem for Jose Manuel de la Torre.

One of his key players throughout the past year has been Chicharito. The 25-year-old striker is generally one of the first names on the team sheet for each and every Mexico match—or at least when de la Torre opts for his "A" squad.

"Chepo" de la Torre will likely select Chicharito in the starting XI for the Honduras match. He's not one for tactical creativity, and it's doubtful he'll stray far from his small group of regular starters.

However, with the performance of Oribe Peralta, you have to wonder how safe Hernandez's place in the squad is. Injuries have robbed the Manchester United player of any sort of preseason training.

He really isn't in form at the moment, in stark contrast to Peralta.

The 29-year-old has scored six goals in as many games for Santos Laguna in the Liga MX Apertura. He also had a brace in Mexico's 4-1 friendly win over the Ivory Coast in August.

Former national team star Cuauhtemoc Blanco has already gone on record saying that Peralta should be getting the edge over Hernandez (h/t Mexican football journalist Tom Marshall).

It's hard to disagree with that viewpoint, either. As a manager, you should decide much of your lineup by who's on form. Peralta is the striker on form, while Hernandez is very much out of it.

In addition, Chicharito hasn't really been himself for the national team when he has gotten into the team. Sure, he relies heavily on getting good support, and that has been lacking as El Tri struggle to find creativity and an attacking edge in midfield.

When Hernandez has gotten the ball, he's routinely failed to make the most of his opportunities. He hasn't been able to hold up the ball, nor has he gotten too many good shots at goal.

In short, Chepo has been selecting Chicharito more so on reputation more than he has actual production.

Hernandez is still a very good striker and the best pure talent at de la Torre's disposal among El Tri's forwards. When the player is on form, Mexico are the best team in CONCACAF, and his play can cover up the other problems on the pitch.

But the fact of the matter is, Hernandez has to do much more to earn his place in the squad.