Chicharito should have participated in the World Cup

Chicharito should have participated in the World Cup

He may have helped a Mexico squad desperate for goals

Chicharito should have participated in the World Cup.
Photo Credit:  Shaun Clark/Getty Images

Chicharito is the joint all-time best scorer in World Cups for Mexico, having scored an average of almost one goal per two games over the course of a more than ten-year international career. He has also appeared in the third-most World Cup games of any Mexican male player.

The LA Galaxy player's resume speaks for itself, but it's not just a memory. The 34-year-old is coming off a season in which he was an MLS MVP finalist, and he has scored 35 goals in MLS action over the last two seasons. Chicharito has 37 goals in 65 league appearances since joining MLS – a goal per two games averaged over three years — with an admittedly down 2020 season.

Despite this, he did not attend the 2022 World Cup.

If Mexico possessed an abundance of riches at striker and a stable of productive, fit forwards, leaving Chicha at home wouldn't have been such a huge problem. It's commonly known that the player and (for the time being) El Tri head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino don't get along.

Chicharito appears to have broken protocol by promoting and arranging a party during a national team training. Breaking the rules is obviously not encouraged, but El Tri has a long (and sometimes shady) history of players partying hard. Martino appears to have sought to draw a line in the sand, and although Chicharito first refused to apologize for his involvement in the incident, Martino allegedly made an example of the player.

Martino, though, looked to chop off his nose to spite his face in the process. Chicharito stated publicly that he would welcome a recall to the national team, even if he reportedly did not perform what Martino desired behind the scenes. Chicharito eventually apologized to Martino and the FMF, but the bridge had been burned, and Martino barred Chicharito from future engagement. It appears that there is some animosity between the guys, which meant that neither wanted to give up his position.

The end result? Mexico's front line has been woefully underwhelming in this World Cup. Raul Jimenez, the most noteworthy No. 9, seems like a shell of his former self and is definitely not completely ready for this tournament owing to an unlucky succession of major and small ailments. Chucky Lozano has been decent as a wide attacker, and was terrific in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia, but "decent" isn't good enough for the pressure of a World Cup, and Henry Martin and Alexis Vega, for the most part, didn't produce when called upon.

Martino called up an old Mexico squad for the World Cup, which also featured a problematic forward group, and yet he refused to bring up an older player who was in form. Even if Chicharito wasn't ready to start, wouldn't it have been preferable to have him on the bench when Mexico needed a different look in a tight match against Poland, rather than chasing the game and seeking an equalizer before Argentina struck the game-winning dagger? Or to score the game-winning goal against Saudi Arabia?

I won't argue that if Chicharito had competed in this tournament, things would have turned out differently and better, but you have to give yourself a fighting chance, don't you? We all knew goals would be a concern in this group, and Martino's obstinate decision guarantees Mexico's run of advancing from the group stage at World Cups is over.

And what has been done is done. Chicharito's World Cup career is almost probably done, and with Martino out as Mexico coach, Chicharito's time with El Tri may be over as well. That's unfortunate for him and Mexico, but maybe he'll be able to continue his form with the Galaxy as they hunt some long-awaited trophy in 2023.

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment.

Author, Youssef Shnino.

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