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LA Galaxy 2021 Player Postmortem: Chicharito

What a difference a year makes.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at LA Galaxy Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Chicharito was an absolute disaster on the field in 2020. Coming in as the LA Galaxy’s replacement to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the few players who could rival the Swede in terms of name recognition and potential for production in MLS, the Mexican superstar fell flat on his face in what was a difficult year for so many of us.

But, he came good in 2021. After vowing to rededicate himself, dealing with some personal issues off the field, and getting away for a while, Chicharito came back lean, mean and ready to...ok, I can’t keep rhyming, score goals.

And that he did. After starting the season on fire with five goals in his first two games and seven in his first five matches, he finished the season with 17 goals, two off the tops in MLS and showed he had the “fox in the box” instincts that made his so successful in the first place.

Here are Chicharito’s stats in 2021:

Chicharito 2021 LA Galaxy Statistics

2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS 21 20 1,736 17 3 59 32 4 0

It’s really pretty notable that Chicharito scored 17 goals in just 21 appearances, and that may be the only real demerit for him on the season. An injury midseason kept him out for two and a half months, and when he came back, the team was on the long slide that ended their season. His absence wasn’t the only thing that sunk the Galaxy’s playoff hopes in 2021, but as the only consistent scorer on the team (no other player got close to double digit goals in 2021 on LA’s roster), missing so much time really hurt the team.

But in a way, that makes his scoring rate even better. Chicharito’s goals per 90 minutes average was third-best in the league, and he was consistent enough that he probably could have continued scoring at a high rate if he had gotten closer to 34 games. In other words, when he was healthy and on the field, he did his job. And for a guy who took a ton of hate in 2020 as he stumbled through his first season with the Galaxy, it was genuinely nice to see him come good.

Expectations will remain high for 2022, and if he can stay healthy, he should be good to be competing for the MLS Golden Boot again. It sure looks like he’s frozen out of the Mexican national team altogether, but with folks getting increasingly nervous about El Tri’s prospects in the short-term, would it be a shock to see him get a recall, even for the World Cup if Mexico qualify? It would be a surprise, but I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out. And it would make a cool story which wouldn’t interfere with the MLS season.

But the big thing is that Chicharito needs to stay healthy. I don’t blame him for getting hurt — the guy has been dedicated and injuries can be plain bad luck or an opponent making a bad play — but missing a third of the season each year is still tough for the Galaxy. If he can avoid it, that would be a boost for player and team alike.

So Chicharito turned around the “bust” narrative in 2021. Can he push on further and get the Galaxy back in contender status moving forward? That has to be the goal moving forward, and we’ll see if he can do it.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.