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The Crew’s Cucho Hernandez is off to a record-setting start in black and gold

The Colombinan has been a home run signing for Columbus thus far

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cucho Hernandez is breaking all kinds of records for the Columbus Crew. He is the most expensive signing in the history of the club. Hernandez is the only Crew player to score in his first three matches. He is the only player to score four goals in 89 minutes of game action, which is a new MLS record (stoppage time minutes are excluded from this stat).

Here are all the players that scored in their first three appearances in the MLS: Alex Pineda Chacon for the Miami Fusion in 2001, Carlos Ruiz for the LA Galaxy in 2002, Diego Chaves for the Chicago Fire in 2011, Charlie Davies for D.C. United in 2011, Octavio Rivero for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2015, Romell Quioto for the Houston Dynamo in 2017 and finally Brian Fernandez for the Portland Timbers in 2019. The list here ranges from great MLS players, such as league MVPs in Ruiz and Chacon, decent pros in Davies, the forgettable players such as with Chaves and Rivero, squandered talent in Fernandez’s struggles with substance abuse and the still playing in Quioto, who is enjoying good form in Montreal.

What is surprising is that everyone on this list, except for Chacon, was near Hernandez’s age when they made their debuts and scored the three goals. Also, most of the players listed above were on their respective teams before the season started, or were early-season signings. Hernandez is the only midseason signing to have accomplished this feat.

Hernandez’s blistering start has seen him score four goals in under 90 minutes of game action, a mind-blowing stat that no one else in MLS can compete with. Here is a look at some of Hernandez’s contemporaries and how long it took them to get to four goals: Brian Fernandez — 199 minutes, Josef Martinez — 240 minutes, Romell Quioto — 407 minutes, Carlos Vela — 419 minutes, Octavio Rivero — 426 minutes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic — 597 minutes and Raul Ruidiaz — 651 minutes.*

Editor’s Note: This stat is not as easily tracked from the early years of MLS.

A major facet to Hernandez’s game that Crew has missed is his off-ball movement. This was on display when Columbus took on rivals FC Cincinnati on Sunday. The Orange and Blue were unable to contain Hernandez, as he was constantly on the move, showing up on the wings, in the midfield or in his forward position. The Black & Gold were able to deliver the ball to Hernandez on a couple well worked set pieces resulting in a couple of shots and one goal.

While his off-ball movement has been game-changing for Columbus, Hernandez’s range of abilities were on display in his first ever goal for the club. The Colombian’s first goal was a masterpiece of instinct, pace and first touch to bait the goalkeeper, as well as a confident chipped finish. Hernandez can do more than score on breakaways and while he is not a tall striker, he has shown the ability to score headed goals.

Hernandez’s skills do not end there, as he has scored a curler from outside of the penalty box against D.C. United to continue to display his many talents in such a limited sample size.

Not only is Hernandez scoring goals, but he is also elevating the play of those around him. Crew playmaker Lucas Zelarayan has an assist on three of Hernandez’s four goals, as well as two additional assists to winger Derrick Etienne Jr. all while Hernandez has been on the field.

When asked about how his quick connection with Zelarayan, Hernandez said through a translator, “We have struck up a great relationship off the field. This has been very useful so that we understand each other in these first few games. Off the field, he has made me feel just like one more on the team. He has made me feel as though I am appreciated, that has been great for my confidence.”

As Hernandez continues to work with the team in training it will be interesting to see how he meshes with the rest of the team. As Massive Reports’ Sam Fahmi noted on this week’s podcast, Hernandez is coaching other players, like winger Luis Diaz, on how and where he wants the ball. It seems that there is still more to come from the young Colombian.