The 31-year-old legendary Mexican striker is the new face of the LA Galaxy following a transfer from La Liga side Sevilla and 10-year European career. Players like Chicharito, according to Quakes coach Matias Almeyda, are far and few in between.
“I think all these types of signings are great signings,” he said when asked if Chicharito’s arrival was bigger and better than Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s two years ago. “All people that have a beautiful career on a world-wide level are very good players, good goal scorers. There are a few goal scorers. I think Chicharito is going to contribute a lot to this league.
“In fact, yesterday I was watching a lot of (soccer) channels from different parts of the world, and the news about his arrival was impactful. Although he’s a rival, I’m always wishing them the best, and more so because he’s from Chivas, he’s Mexican — I have a lot of love for Mexico.
“But then, once he steps on the field, he will be marked by a defender,” he added. “And I don’t think any defender is going to ask for his signature. I know I wouldn’t. … But I do think that his arrival is a good thing for everyone: the league, the club (LA Galaxy). I have a great relationship with the Galaxy’s coaching staff. I knew, more or less, that they were close to signing him. I congratulate them.”
Not every member of the Galaxy’s longtime archrivals had rosy comments to make about Mexico’s all-time leading goal scorer's integration to the league, however.
Nick Lima, who as a homegrown product and four-year veteran acknowledges the deep-rooted rivalry between both, isn’t sold on Chicharito coming in and making never-before-seen impact on the field.
“It’s going to be competitive with every team,” Lima said. “I don’t think he’s going to make a difference. It’s one team, he’s one player. It’s a team sport.”
Similar to Zlatan — if not at a higher degree — Chicharito will add a layer of excitement to the California Clasico, assuring that every seat at Stanford Stadium is filled when the two teams meet there on June 27.
With the Chivas connection he and Almeyda share, the showdowns with San Jose will have an additional subplot. And with him donning the Galaxy crest, not many San Jose faithful will be rooting for him, especially when both teams meet head on, or when making playoffs is on the table.
“Same thing, you know,” Chris Wondolowski said on his perspective between Zlatan’s and Chicharito’s arrival to Galaxy. “I wish him all the health. I hope that he stays healthy and has a great time. But I can’t wish the Galaxy much luck. I hope they finish seventh or eighth place this year.”