Javier Hernandez

Greg Vanney pleased with Chicharito's LA Galaxy return

Chris Smith
Hernandez played for the first time since 27 June at the weekend
Hernandez played for the first time since 27 June at the weekend / Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images

LA Galaxy manager Greg Vanney was pleased with Javier Hernandez's return to action in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Colorado Rapids.

The Mexican striker had been sidelined since scoring a brace in the Galaxy's Cali Clasico win over San Jose Earthquakes at the end of June with a calf problem, missing 12 games during that time.

Chicharito finally returned to the pitch on Saturday, playing 62 minutes in the Galaxy's stalemate with Colorado. Though he didn't score, the 33-year-old was a threat, creating one chance for his teammates and attempting two shots.

Speaking to reporters after the match, Vanney gave a positive assessment of Chicharito's comeback performance.

"I thought he looked good. He gave us some experience that we needed on a day like today, sometimes in just holding up the ball and bringing some people in and I thought his work was good," Vanney said.

"We prolonged his recovery for a little while, so physically he was fine. We had played 11 v 11 this past weekend and he played 45 [minutes], and we knew he was pretty comfortable for 45 and we wanted to split the game.

"It was kind of an initial thought that we would bring in three guys early into the second half or in the middle of the second half just because of the challenge of the conditions, the heat, the altitude and everything else. We wanted to keep a fresh group on there, which was really the main reason.

"But he felt OK physically and he felt OK even from a fitness standpoint. It wasn’t always the fastest pace from end to end so he wasn’t having to sprint all over the place and we weren’t high pressing all over. We were a little bit high, but we weren’t high pressing necessarily. So he was good and he feels good now."

The Galaxy currently sit fourth in the Western Conference and although a playoff place isn't assured just yet, they're in good shape.

Now that his star striker is back in action, Vanney says the focus will be on managing Chicharito's minutes to ensure he can be an influence in the busy run-in to the regular season - LA face Houston Dynamo on Wednesday in the second of three games in seven days.

"We know this is a busy week, so we didn’t want to use up everything in one game because we know we’re coming back midweek," Vanney added. "The more we save from him today, the more we get from him on Wednesday because it’s been a while since he’s played. It was great to see him back out there again because he’s an important piece of this group.”

Given his lengthy spell on the sidelines, it's incredible that Chicharito is within just four goals of MLS Golden Boot leader Raul Ruidiaz, scoring 10 goals in 10 appearances prior to his injury.

If he can stay fit from here on out, there's no doubting the former Man Utd and Real Madrid striker figures among the favourites to top the MLS goalscoring charts.