After Cucho Hernández was introduced as the Columbus Crew’s record-signing striker, the narrative of the transfer window quickly shifted away from the former Watford forward to LAFC signing Gareth Bale and D.C. United returning Wayne Rooney as a head coach. Since debuting Saturday against the Chicago Fire, Hernández has been hard to ignore and on Thursday received the rare distinction of earning his second MLS Team of the Week award in the span of four days.
After a match-winning goal against the Fire, MLS put Hernández on the bench for the Team of the Week, playing a hair over 30 minutes in his debut.
On Wednesday at Audi Field, the Crew looked like a different team entirely when Hernández and midfielder Lucas Zelarayán each entered to play the final 45 minutes. Against a United team that dominated the offensive chances in the first half, Hernández scored twice in the Black & Gold’s 2-2 draw.
Hernández’s first goal came in the 62nd minute. The striker was part of winning possession in the Columbus defensive midfield, and ran up in attack. Playmaker Lucas Zelarayán found his fellow Designated Player on the corner of the penalty area, where Hernández put the ball on his left foot and curled in a tough-to-convert shot into the top right corner of the net.
In the 80th minute, United attacking midfielder and key player in the D.C. offense, scored his 10th goal in 10 starts with the MLS original club and Hernández and the Black & Gold responded immediately.
Less than a minute after United tied the match, Hernández and Zelarayán linked for the second time on the evening. This time, Zelarayán sent a pass into the six-yard box from outside the right penalty area line, and Hernández went to ground and headed in Columbus’ second goal before the home crowd could stop celebrating the goal at the other end of the field.
Ultimately for the Crew, it was an upsetting evening giving up two leads and that resonated even with the new Black & Gold forward who has three goals in 75 minutes on the field.
“I’m irritated because we wanted to win, and it was a game that we should have won,” said Hernández. “But the point is good, and we’ll take it and move on to the next one.”
Even though all three team points didn’t come Columbus’ way, the league is noticing his quick contributions, as the fastest Black & Gold player in 27 years to reach three goals.
Hernández joins three other Columbus players to receive multiple Team of the Week awards in 2022. Goalkeeper Eloy Room, midfielders Zelarayán and Darlington Nagbe and winger Derrick Etienne Jr. also share the distinction. Of the five, only Hernández and Zelarayán have earned the honor in consecutive match weeks, with Zelarayán starting the season with three straight additions to the weekly award, on his way to winning MLS Player of the Month for March.