The striker’s sensational move to LA Galaxy is a part of a growing trend of talented players Choosing to leave the native league to the US
The competition between MLS and Liga MX did not start on Tuesday. The registering of Javier’Chicharito’ Hernandez added a new layer, sure, but this was a struggle that’s been brewing for quite a while.
It is one that has occurred on the field, where Mexican clubs have been largely dominant in Concacaf Champions League play. But, perhaps above all, it is taken place away from these games, as the struggle for perception was just as ferocious.
The competition is still growing, as MLS teams are getting closer and closer to knocking off their Liga MX foes always in play. But Chicharito, the guy at the middle of the most recent debate, says that another element of the competition has tipped towards Liga MX’s northern neighbors.
The signing represents a large coup for MLS, as Chicharito has chosen to take another step of his career in the U.S. He might have remained in Europe or he might have returned to Mexico, having initially come to be a celebrity at Chivas. Rather, Chicharito decided MLS was the ideal place for him.
He understands that his decision is going to be a bitter pill to swallow for lovers of Liga MX, lots of whom wanted to see Mexico’s biggest footballing export return home. But Chicharito claims the true realization Liga MX must come to is much larger than 1 player or one move.
“I believe our country does not want to acknowledge that MLS is getting very near.
“I have been out 10 years now out of playing in Liga MX, and this will be my first time playing in MLS so I can’t tell you what exactly is how, but now I see it from the outside, the explosion of MLS all around the world isn’t the same as Liga MX.
“I know it because my teammates, the coaches I’ve played, they have more understanding about MLS than Liga MX.
“Both leagues are advancing, but MLS is advancing in larger steps. Talking about Liga MX, they do not need to observe that. They don’t need to learn a few things that MLS do great.
“I think one reason MLS is growing so great is that they’re learning from Liga MX and other leagues to dream big and attempt to make this league as large as they could.”
While the Chicharito signing might be the one to send shockwaves, it is just the tip of the iceberg. He is far from the only player to make this selection.
It would be easy to say that Chicharito is a one-off, a perfect match for an ideal situation for a good deal of money.
But there’s been a gigantic change in signings in North America within the past couple of years.
Pulido, Liga MX’s top scorer last season, combined Sporting KC this winter when getting the club’s biggest ever registering. Kansas City isn’t a typical hotbed for big-money signings such as Los Angeles. For many years, Mexico’s star could land in the largest clubs. No longer.
Like Chicharito, Pulido considers that coming and playing in MLS is a feasible option. With former Atlanta United director Gerardo’Tata’ Martino now responsible for the national team, Mexican players understand that El Tri has a supervisor that will honor their accomplishments in MLS.
The fact he looks at MLS, in the league, is quite important. Part of the reason I decided to come to MLS is due to that: I need to come back to the Mexican national team.”
“Obviously, each league needs the very best players,” he added. “In Mexico, I really do think they get mad when a Mexican player decides to come to MLS over Liga MX, but they have to respect each participant’s decision.
“Players really analyze their conclusions. The league here has changed a lot competitively but personally, I decided to come here because I’m the sort of player that loves challenges and this is a challenge which makes me very content.”
It has not only been Mexican national team stars moving across the boundary.
Former Chivas director Matias Almeyda reconstructed the San Jose Earthquakes final season. This season, two-time Concacaf Champions League winner Diego Alonso has moved to Inter Miami, while former FC Dallas director Oscar Pareja returned into the league with Orlando City after a stint in Tijuana.
Players of different nationalities are making the jump also.
That is not to say it does not work the other way round, with Atlanta United centerpiece Leandro Gonzalez Pirez heading into Tijuana, while Yoshimar Yotun departed Orlando City before last season to join Cruz Azul.