Chicharito unfazed by dry spell
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez is remarkable not only for his ability as a striker, which is quite impressive, but also for his optimism, which is as relentless as his runs on goal. The recent news that he would start on the bench for Mexico in the country's first match at the 2014 World Cup was met with his usual willing spirit and gladness to contribute.
Hernandez needs a positive attitude to propel him through his recent scoring slump. He has scored 58 goals for Mexico, good for third-highest on the all-time list, but it has been almost a year since Chicharito put a ball into the net for his country. He last registered a goal for El Tri on June 22, 2013.
To his credit, this has not been for lack of trying. Hernandez has rung the post more than once, and he keeps chasing and even creating opportunities around the goal. Most observers would agree that he is due -- overdue, in fact -- for a goal.
That's the main reason why his current lack of production should be put into context. Chicharito has obviously been hampered by a limited amount of playing time at Manchester United. However, his recent work in Mexico's preparation matches has been sprightly, and he has shown off passing ability that few could have imagined. A striker who is dangerous around the goal and who occupies defenders can contribute greatly to a match without actually scoring.
It's also not as if Mexico's other strikers of late have been on a scoring tear, either. Most of El Tri's recent goals have been scored by midfielders or even defenders.
Truth be told, Hernandez has looked the best out of the group of Oribe Peralta, Raul Jimenez, Alan Pulido and even Giovani Dos Santos, the one forward who did score in the preparation games.
Hernandez is a poacher of goals, sure, but one with a unique skill and timing to stay onside, the speed to beat most defenders to a long pass, and an instinct for the goal that few can match.
He has remained undaunted by his dry spell in front of the net, as can be evidenced by videos of him at training going full blast into every drill. He laughs and jokes with his teammates, helping them escape from the pressure of the upcoming competition in Brazil. Hernandez even put on goalkeeping gloves and jumped into the net recently to take shots during practice.
Many strikers can mope and get discouraged when they are not scoring goals. It takes resiliency to keep believing and preparing as if the next one will come soon. Hernandez undoubtedly has that.
Coach Miguel Herrera, although he started Hernandez on the bench during the team's last match versus Portugal, noted how effective the striker was in creating chances for El Tri. Chicharito may not start every game in the World Cup, but he's bound to have an impact.
After all, his final goal scored last June was in Brazil, during the Confederations Cup. Hernandez is not intimidated by the big stage, and it just may be the perfect time for him to step into the spotlight again on behalf of Mexico.
Andrea Canales covers both Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter @soccercanales.