KANSAS CITY, KS – Imagine Chicharito playing in the London Olympics for Mexico.
That is a possibility, says Mexican Under-23 coach Luis Fernando Tena.
Tena on Monday night called Manchester United's Javier Hernández “a natural” to play as one of Mexico’s three over-age players at the London Olympic Games this summer.
Hernandez is too old to play for El Tri’s U-23 national side because he will turn 24 on June 1.
“A natural candidate, Chicharito. Everyone thinks of him, obviously,” Tena said after Mexico secured the confederation’s U-23 crown at the CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying tournament on Monday night. “He plays in England.”
More specifically, Hernández plays for perennial powerhouse and first-place Manchester United in the English Premier League, and ManU’s home pitch, Old Trafford, is one of six venues that will host games. Old Trafford is slated to host men’s matches on five dates this summer — group-stage games on July 26, July 29 and Aug. 1, a quarterfinal on Aug. 4 and a semifinal on Aug. 7.
If Mexico is drawn into the right slots in either Groups A, C or D, Chicharito could wind up playing on his home club field. The Olympic draw is April 24.
Given that El Tri has just finished its Olympic qualifying run, Tena was not in a position to commit to the Mexican National Team player or any player, for that matter.
“We can’t say if he is going to be that player,” he said. “He’s a great candidate. Let’s wait and analyze it. Four months. He’s a candidate.”
Tena said he had plenty of time to decide on the three over-age players.
"I still haven't gotten into detail about those above-age players," he said. "There's four months from here to then, where I will analyze it."
Forward Miguel Ponce, a Sacramento, Calif. native who plays for Mexican, scored in the 115th minute to break a 1-1 tie to lift El Tri to its fifth consecutive win. The Mexicans finished the competition at 5-0.
"It's great satisfaction to be able do it," Tena said. "It's a very, very beautiful feeling.
"I am very happy about it. We were able to beat a good team like Honduras. We were able to make a lot of people happy here in Kansas City, a lot of Mexican folks who showed up for the game are very happy. We had a lot of good players and personalities."
Michael Lewis, who has covered international soccer for more than three decades, can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com.