Amid all the goal celebrations at Wednesday’s All-Star Game, the two biggest cheers of the night came when two very different players entered the match as second-half subs.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, the current darling of Mexican soccer, came on in the 63rd minute, and the crowd erupted in appreciation of the young striker’s much-anticipated Manchester United debut. He didn’t disappoint them (or Sir Alex Ferguson), notching a classy goal in the 84th minute that raised the retractable roof at Reliant Stadium.
Chicharito’s equally idolized US counterpart, Landon Donovan, came on for the MLS side in the 74th minute. He never really asserted himself, obviously worn out from the CONCACAF Champions League match he played for the LA Galaxy on Tuesday night.
What was intriguing was how many of the fans seemed to cheer equally for both players. The rivalry between the United States and Mexico is one of international football’s fiercest—one fan was seen in a homemade T-shirt with “Chicharito vs. Donovan” printed on the back—yet on this occasion, at least, the fans played it fast and loose with their affiliations.
Even the players enjoyed the hype. When asked who had received a louder reception, Donovan smiled.
“Chicharito,” he said. “The guy’s a legend.”