Eastern Conference defenses, there’s bad news: Cucho Hernandez has already been ruthless. Now he’s ticked off.
The 23-year-old club-record transfer from Watford has already netted three goals in 73 minutes off the bench for the Columbus Crew. His second and third goals for the Crew on Wednesday night were only enough to earn a 2-2 draw at D.C. United, in which his side twice gave back the lead.
“I’m irritated,” Hernandez said after playing the entire second half at Audi Field. “It wasn’t the result we wanted and I thought we deserved to win. But one point is OK and we’ll need to think about the next game now.”
That could give the new arrival a bit of an extra edge when Columbus host FC Cincinnati in the Hell is Real Derby on Sunday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes) in Heineken Rivalry Week.
Hernandez’s brace also marked the first two times he’s connected with playmaker Lucas Zelarayan. Zelarayan has been tasked with carrying Columbus’ attack at times this season while his team have struggled to get production from their other strikers.
And now that he's already building an understanding with his new partner up top, even manager Caleb Porter could put the result aside and be optimistic about the duo’s future.
“The impact of Cucho and Lucas for two goals, that’s a real positive,” Porter said. “Obviously we’re trying to build chemistry and trying to build fitness with Cucho. And I thought those two guys were excellent coming in the second half. Those two guys deserve a lot of credit for scoring those goals.”
The pair have only spent 64 minutes playing together so far. They’ll likely get a more extended run Sunday when Columbus looks for a critical win to try and pass their Ohio rivals in the Eastern Conference standings.
“Chemistry is starting to build with those two,” Porter said. “Cucho has scored three goals in different ways. It’s great to see, but I’m looking at the team, I’m looking at performance, looking at other individuals as well and we’ve got to learn from this game. There’s a lot to look at. Got to put it behind us, and we have a massive game on Sunday.”
Said Hernandez: “I’m working very hard and very seriously. … I’m doing my job, but I want to score and win games, so hopefully it will be in the next one.”