Cucho Hernandez is off to a scorching start in Major League Soccer with Columbus Crew’s record signing already making history with his fourth goal in three matches, helping lead his new squad to a 2-0 Hell is Real win over FC Cincinnati as part of Heineken Rivalry Week Sunday night at Lower.com Field.
The 23-year-old Colombian, who made his first start for Columbus Sunday, is already drawing comparisons to Atlanta United talisman Josef Martinez, who scored 19 goals in his first MLS season and set a then-MLS record with 31 in 2018 to win the Golden Boot presented by Audi.
“I like it because he is a great player who has made a lot of history here in MLS,” Hernandez said in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com. “It’s normal that people want to make comparisons and it’s good when those comparisons are positive, but I want to do my work, I want to make my own history. It’s all going the right way. I must keep working hard and I hope everything comes out great.”
"Hope the good times keep coming"
Hernandez arrived in Columbus after scoring five Premier League goals a year ago for Watford, who were relegated to the English Championship. He’s also played in Spain’s LaLiga with Mallorca and Getafe, scoring against some of the biggest clubs in the world.
Hernandez said he’s feeling more and more comfortable in his new surroundings, believing he’s made the right career move.
“It has been a great experience so far,” he said. “I like that I made the decision [to come to MLS]. Everything is going well so far, thanks to the way the club has been bringing me along, my teammates and the coaching staff. I’m happy and I hope the good times keep on coming.”
In particular, Hernandez has formed an immediate partnership with Lucas Zelarayan, who has a goal and five assists since Cucho made his debut, and scored his first MLS goal, in a 28-minute substitute appearance in a 3-2 win over Chicago Fire FC on July 9.
On Sunday, he headed in a Zelarayan free-kick service in the 16th minute to open the scoring. Zelarayan added a penalty kick four minutes from full time as Columbus made it 5W-1L-3D in MLS matches against FC Cincinnati.
“First off, I am playing in a position that I like very much at forward. I’m not a forward who just likes to be inside the box,” Hernandez said. “I like to come out and make combinations and try to surprise [the opponent]. That has been fundamental to things going well. It’s important to keep improving so things go even better.”
Living in the present
With their record signing seemingly scoring at will, Columbus are unbeaten in their last eight matches (4W-0L-4D) and are sixth in the Eastern Conference standings after Week 21.
There are 14 regular-season matches remaining, beginning with a home showdown with the New England Revolution Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). How many more goals can Hernandez score?
“I don’t like to speculate on things I can’t control, such as the future,” Hernandez said. “I live in the present time and I was focused on this game and was able to score and we were able to win. My mind is only focused on the game next Saturday. I don’t care about anything else.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Columbus Crew vs. FC Cincinnati | July 17, 2022