WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Javier Hernández isn’t just turning heads in the English Premier League.
The striker is being compared to the greatest players on the planet.
“There is no doubt that Hernández is a promising player. He is excellent, I have seen some games of his on television and he is a fantastic footballer,” said Brazilian icon Pelé, according to Goal.com. “He could be the next [Lionel] Messi because he has great talent; he is a big surprise just as Hugo Sánchez was because he is another that scores a lot of goals.”
Hernández, who also stars for the Mexican national team, has 20 goals in 42 games for Manchester United and has helped propel the Red Devils to the top of not just English soccer, but soccer throughout Europe.
Manchester United needs a mere point from its final two games to secure a record 19th English Premier League title. The Red Devils also play Spanish power FC Barcelona – led by Argentine star Messi – in the final of the UEFA Champions League on May 28. The Champions League is a tournament that features the best European club teams and is considered the most prestigious club tournament in the world.
Hernández, a 22-year-old known affectionately as “Chicharito” to his fans, left Mexico’s Chivas last year to play for Manchester United. He was expected to see a lot of time with the reserve team as he adjusted to the English style of play.
But Hernández was a revelation off the bench early in the season and solidified a spot in the lineup.
“We should wait a little, because we still don’t know how he will play in the Mexican team... but without doubt, he has huge potential,” said Pelé, according to Goal.com.
Argentina’s Nalbandian pulls out of French Open
There will be no French connection for David Nalbandian.
The native of Córdoba, Argentina, is the No. 24-ranked player in the world, but he pulled out of the French Open – one of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournaments – because he’s recovering from surgery to repair a hernia.
The surgery, coupled with a muscle strain and a recent fever that caused him to lose six pounds of muscle mass, have left Nalbandian, 29, unable to compete against a star-studded field at Roland Garros.
It was a tough decision for Nalbandian, who reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2004 and 2006, according to his spokesman, Bernardo Ballero.
“Because of the fact that he didn’t get match practice on clay, he decided not to play so he could continue his recovery in order to make his comeback on the [Association of Tennis Professionals] Tour in the best possible way,” said Ballero, according to Sports Illustrated. “David had a fever that affected him for a week and delayed his training, and that led to [his decision to withdraw].”
Nalbandian expects to return to action at Queen’s Club Tournament in England next month. The event is a tune-up for Wimbledon, where Nalbandian finished second in 2002.
Ogando off to great start for Texas Rangers
Alexi Ogando might be the fastest learner in Major League Baseball.
The native of San Pedro in the Dominican Republic has been pitching for fewer than five years after deciding his best chance to play professionally was not in the outfield.
Ogando, at 6-feet-4 and 195 pounds, has made a smooth transition from the outfield to the pitcher’s mound. The right-hander needed less than a month in the minor leagues before he was added to the roster of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers last season. The Rangers advanced to the World Series for the first time in 2010 before falling to the San Francisco Giants in six games.
But Ogando, 27, has been even better this season.
Ogando, who has battled a blister on his pitching finger, is 3-0 with a measly 2.17 earned-run average and 27 strikeouts against a mere nine walks in 37.1 innings. Opposing hitters are batting just .179 against him.
“I think everything about him is unique,” said Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels, according to ESPN.com. “He has a unique background. He’s a converted outfielder who spent his first four or five years pitching not in the States. Only pitches a month in the minor leagues before he comes up. That’s unique. Starting in the big leagues after never really starting before is very unique. He has a unique body type and unique arm action. He has a unique way of hiding the ball and guys just don’t seem to get good looks off him. There are a lot of things that make him a different bird.”
Ogando is scheduled to start against the Los Angeles Angels on May 13. Texas is 19-18 and in third place in the American League West Division, 1½ games behind the Angels (21-17).