Najar’s confidence is born out of the defending Supporters’ Shield champions boasting Carlos Vela, another Mexican superstar who last year reached 34 goals and 15 assists en route to Landon Donovan MLS MVP honors. In the Honduran’s opinion, Vela’s clearly the league’s top player.
“I have Vela on my side – the best player in the league,” Najar said in a Facebook Live chat as reported by Diario Deportivo Diez. “I’m not worried about Chicharito.”
“He can even play when he’s on the ground,” the defender added. “Vela is on another level – the way he plays, the way he trains. What he does on the field during a game, he does in practice every day. He has surprised me.”
That belief will soon be put to the test, with LAFC and LA Galaxy both drawn into Group F for the MLS is Back Tournament. They meet July 18 in Orlando, with kickoff set for 10:30 pm ET and the match broadcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and TSN.
While a limited sample size, Hernandez has endured a timid start since arriving from Sevilla as a Designated Player, failing to score through two games. Conversely, Vela scored twice through two matches before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 season to be suspended.
Najar, who joined Anderlecht in 2013 after impressing as a Homegrown Player with D.C. United, is no stranger to hotly contested matches.
“I’ve experienced beautiful derbies in Belgium, but this is special because in the same state you have two [derbies] and it’s a nice feeling,” Najar, the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year, said. “The league has changed in a lot of ways.”
Najar also delved into how he arrived at LAFC, highlighting his relationship with general manager John Thorrington. They played together in D.C., and his agent knows LAFC assistant coach Kenny Arena, who’s the son of New England Revolution head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena.
For more from Najar, check out the entire piece here.