A day after the LA Galaxy announced one star would be missing the MLS is Back Tournament, they confirmed another will be there.
While midfielder Jonathan dos Santos has been ruled out through injury for the tournament, which starts next week, forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez will be with the club in Orlando and ready to go, GM Dennis te Kloese told reporters on a video conference call.
Chicharito was substituted at halftime during an inter-squad Galaxy scrimmage on Thursday, but the move was just a precaution.
"I think he'll be ready for training tomorrow, if not, definitely by the time we leave for Orlando," head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto told reporters on a video conference call. "Nothing important."
Chicharito's Galaxy career got off to a slow start, as the 32-year-old didn't get many chances over his first two matches four months ago. He was held without a shot on target while the Galaxy picked up just a point over those two games.
The Mexico international will be without his compatriot dos Santos, with the midfielder undergoing minor surgery after slipping and overstretching his groin during training a few weeks ago. The Galaxy tried to heal the injury with rehab and other treatment but ultimately decided surgery was the best option.
"It got to a point where anything on the medicine side wasn't effective anymore, so the only solution was a small, not very invasive, surgery," Te Kloese said. "He'll be fit in four to five weeks. If he played, he would have injured it more and wouldn't be 100 percent fit. We need a fit Jonathan to be able to manage the pace of the game and hold the ship in the midfield. The solution of a small surgery is difficult timing, but we had to take a decision. Everyone, including Jonathan, agreed to go forward with the surgery because you can't have half-fit players at a tournament like this."
Schelotto will have a tough task filling the void left by dos Santos, the club's heartbeat in central midfield. It won't be one player tasked with replacing him, the coach explained, rather a collective effort.
"When you lose a player like him, he's not too easy to replace," Schelotto said. "It's not about one name, I think the team has to support Jona's absence. The task for us is to build a team where you cannot see that Jona is not playing. It's a big challenge for us. I feel sorry for the team, for him."
Perry Kitchen is the player most likely to fill in at the defensive midfield spot for the Galaxy, having started the team's first game of the season in that role before replacing dos Santos off the bench in their second and final game before MLS's suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The club also signed Panamanian youth international Carlos Harvey from their USL Championship affiliate last week to provide additional cover at the position.