Mexico forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has been relegated to a super substitute role in the 2014 World Cup. Although his side is off to an ideal start to the tournament, they've scored just one goal in two matches following Tuesday's 0-0 draw against host Brazil in Group A.
Hernandez entered in the 73rd minute and did provide somewhat of a spark to the attack, but Brazil generated many of the best scoring chances of the match. It took an extraordinary effort from Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to preserve the tie and give his club a point.
The BBC's Ben Smith noted how Hernandez once again wasn't among Mexico's starters on Tuesday:
Still no place for Chicarito in the Mexico starting XI. Javier Hernandez starts on the bench pic.twitter.com/ZJrtC5lKc8— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) June 17, 2014
ESPN FC made note of the little time Hernandez was afforded when Mexico manager Miguel Herrera finally sent him out late in the game:
Chicharito replaces Peralta for another 17-minute shift at the end of the match #MEX— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 17, 2014
Football fan and author John Green had high hopes for Hernandez, which were ultimately not quite realized in that he didn't tally any goals:
Chicharito on with a chance to be a hero for his nation.— John Green (@sportswithjohn) June 17, 2014
Tom Marshall of ESPN FC and Goal.com praised Hernandez's efforts despite the limited time on the pitch:
Chicharito providing another option for Mexico upfront with his movement and fresh legs.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) June 17, 2014
The most notable part of Chicharito's brief stay on the World Cup stage came when Brazil defender Thiago Silva came crashing into him in a high-speed collision:
Andrew Keh of The New York Times observed what happened thereafter, as there were evidently no hard feelings:
The referee gives Thiago Silva a yellow card for that wild tackle on Chicharito and Silva shakes his hand. What a gentleman.— Andrew Keh (@andrewkeh) June 17, 2014
Silva then hugged Chicharito, finishing the most cordial yellow card foul sequence ever.— Andrew Keh (@andrewkeh) June 17, 2014
That might not be the way Hernandez is feeling with his diminished stature on Mexico's team, though.
"I've never seen myself as a sub and I don't like being one,” said Hernandez last week, per Goal.com's Tom Marshall. "And, believe me, I am tired of a lot of people seeing me that way, as a 'super-sub.' I'm a player that has made a difference as a starter."
But as WhoScored.com points out, perhaps Herrera has a method to his madness in letting Hernandez languish on the bench:
Herrera cited Chicharito's struggles at Manchester United under manager David Moyes this last season as the reason he isn't in the starting XI, per Jim White of The Telegraph:
Hernandez had a difficult year because he had a different coach to the one he was used to. The fact is sometimes people get heated up and carried away because they want to see him on the pitch, but people must understand we decided to have eleven players going through their best time. It hurts me that he is no longer among that eleven.
Perhaps Hernandez will command more time on the pitch given the limited action he's seen and how much Mexico's attack has struggled to find the net. The exceptional competition Hernandez has battled in the English Premier League should prepare him well for any opponent, and Herrera is doing no favors in building a relationship with Chicharito by limiting his minutes.
At least Herrera should have the flexibility to experiment with different lineups now that Mexico have four points in Group A to tie Brazil through two matches. In the finale against Croatia, perhaps Hernandez will be given more of a shot to showcase his skills. Should he succeed, a move into the starting lineup is somewhat feasible for the prospective knockout stage.
There is still reason for Mexico to invest hope in Chicharito. It's up to Herrera to give the 26-year-old striker an opportunity to prove himself.