Chicharito will Provide Proper Test for Orlando's Center Backs
Few strikers in all of Major League Soccer pose a greater threat than the Los Angeles Galaxy's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. The Mexican international is one of the most decorated players in Concacaf history. After an abysmal debut MLS campaign in 2020, the Little Pea exploded last season.
With a new mentality and fresh faces around him, Hernandez scored 17 goals for the Galaxy last season. His per 90 splits were among the best in the league, and if he had stayed a little healthier, the Mexican could've won the MLS Golden Boot.
Hernandez has started the 2022 season in similarly scintillating form, with two goals in his first three games and his underlying numbers are even better. Not only is he an extremely productive striker, the way he's productive makes him a nightmare for center backs.
Through three weeks, Orlando City's center backs haven't been tested all that much. Week one was an interesting matchup with the speedy Romell Quioto, but the Honduran was wasteful and got himself sent off. Chicago's frontline lacked the quality and sharpness to test Orlando's defense in a real way.
Cincinnati's Brandon Vazquez did steal the show, finding space and finishing a pair of chances for a match-winning brace, but for a majority of the game, Orlando's center halves handled Cincy's strike partnership fairly well.
Hernandez and the Galaxy will provide the biggest test for Orlando's Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson yet.
The Mexican's in-the-box movement is the best in all of MLS and some of the best of his era. Few players have a nose for goal like Chicharito. He knows how to peel off of his defender for space, chase down rebounds and make himself an option in the air.
So far this year, no opposing center forward has really tested Orlando the way Chicharito does. With how ambitious all three of Orlando's center backs can be on both sides of the ball, the Mexican's movement could create a lot of danger, not only for himself, but for the Galaxy's other dangerous offensive players.
With so many elite center forwards in Orlando's path to MLS silverware, this is a big early test for a group of center backs who have serious potential. In their MLS careers, Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson have looked, at times, like Best XI defenders, but have also struggled with inconsistency. Saturday's matchup will go a long way in showing what type of season this could be for Orlando's center backs.