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Do the U.S. and Mexico care about the Gold Cup anymore?

Gold Cup
 By Tom Marshall

Chicharito looking to end goal drought against United States

PASADENA, Calif. -- Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has scored in two World Cups, the Champions League, La Liga, Premier League and, most recent, the Bundesliga. But the most prominent and recognized Mexican player of his generation has never put the ball into the back of the net against El Tri's great rival the United States.

Indeed, aside from the 2011 Gold Cup final, Hernandez has never been on the winning side against the States. Since that match, Mexico hasn't scored a goal in the 270 minutes Hernandez has been on the field against the U.S.

That stretch encompasses the 1-0 August 2012 loss at the Estadio Azteca, the 0-0 draw in the same stadium in qualifying in March 2013 and the "dos a cero" loss in Columbus, Ohio, the following September.

The 27-year-old Bayer Leverkusen striker will seek to break his dismal spell against the United States in Saturday's CONCACAF Cup at the Rose Bowl, the winner of which earns a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

Not that Hernandez seems too concerned with his barren run against the U.S.

"For me, [playing the U.S.] is like playing against any team in the world," he said Friday. "For me, it is a very special moment to represent my country, so if I play a friendly match, a Gold Cup or even the World Cup, I'm very blessed to represent my country."

Javier Hernandez has not been part of a winning Mexico team against the United States since the 2011 Gold Cup final.

On Saturday, Hernandez is likely to be asked to play in an unfamiliar wide position, at least if reports are to be believed and Mexico interim coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti plays three players up front.

As a youth, Hernandez featured on the right wing at Chivas but is far-better known for his predatory instincts inside the penalty area, which have moved him to within five goals of Jared Borgetti as Mexico's all-time leading scorer.

The former Manchester United man isn't at all worried that playing in a front three with Raul Jimenez and Oribe Peralta -- who are also predominantly central strikers -- without any game time to experiment will pose a problem for either him or his Mexico side.

The Mexico crowd will be out in full force at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

"Whoever I play alongside, I will be happy and thankful," Hernandez said. "And this about understanding or not understanding, if we all want to play for Mexico, we all have to understand each other 100 percent."

Since the last game he played against the United States in 2013, with Mexico jumping from one calamity to another during World Cup qualifying, much has changed for Hernandez.

Back then, he was enduring a torrid time at Manchester United under manager David Moyes and was starved for minutes. A stint at Real Madrid and a move to Leverkusen have passed by in the meantime and the signs are finally there that Hernandez is finding some stability in his club career and getting regular minutes.

Heading back to Germany next week with a key goal in the bag against the United States would be another sign that Mexico's most popular player is back on the right track.

"Like I always say, the most important game of my life is the one I am going to play," he said. "For me, this is going to be the most important game because I am blessed and fortunate to be able to be in this position."

Those words ring true for Saturday, especially for a player the majority of the pro-Mexico crowd will be hoping can send them home happy with at least one goal.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.


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