Crew signing Cucho Hernandez arrives in Columbus to greeting and expectations from fans

·3 min read

The yellow, blue and red colors of the Colombian flag waved above the man everyone came to see inside the Huntington Club at field level at Lower.com Field.

The Crew's designated player signing, 23-year-old Colombian striker Cucho Hernandez, had officially arrived.

About 100 people from the Crew’s two Hispanic supporters’ groups, La Guardia 96 and La Turbina Amarilla, and families and children from the Ohio Hispanic Coalition gathered to welcome the newest member of the Crew on Wednesday night.

Behind the scenes: How the Crew signed Cucho Hernandez

The main supporters’ group, the Nordecke, got a private introduction with Hernandez later.

Cucho Hernandez: What Columbus Crew fans hope to see from Colombian striker

Fernando Mendoza was one of a few fans in attendance wearing a Colombian national team jersey. He has been a Crew fan since immigrating from Colombia in 1999.

He became friends with Colombian player John Wilmar Perez when he played with the Crew from 2000-02. He said they would play soccer together in the offseason and Perez came to a graduation party of one of Mendoza’s family members.

New Columbus Crew signing Cucho Hernandez is welcomed by fans at Lower.com Field on June 29, 2022.
New Columbus Crew signing Cucho Hernandez is welcomed by fans at Lower.com Field on June 29, 2022.

That relationship helped him become a lifelong fan. Now, his 7-year-old son Alex, who was with him at the event, has a Colombian national team player he can watch and look up to on his hometown club.

“He’s very passionate and really into (soccer),” Mendoza said. “He’s very excited.”

Hernandez smiled and high-fived every person he could through a makeshift pathway of fans that was lined by people holding black-and-yellow checkered flags leading to a podium where he answered a few questions in Spanish, asked by the supporters’ groups.

One of those people was Jose Avila with La Guadia 96 and a psychological coordinator with the Ohio Hispanic Coalition. For him, it was a way to showcase the kids he helps and to Hernandez what the Hispanic community looks like in Columbus.

Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez poses for photos with fans at a welcoming event at Lower.com Field.
Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez poses for photos with fans at a welcoming event at Lower.com Field.

“I think having this event and integrating our community, welcoming a Hispanic player to the team kind of gives us that sense of belonging to Columbus,” said Avila, who was already wearing a Crew No. 9 Cucho jersey. “Our goal is for Cucho to feel that same thing.”

Behind Hernandez was a sign that translated “Columbus, what do you want? Your goal-scorer has arrived.”

Hernandez spoke in Spanish about being drawn to the project of wanting to win championship and being impressed by the stadium.

Oscar Rodriguez, a fan at the event with his wife, three children and son’s girlfriend, never went to a Crew game until the stadium opened. He said they’ve been to at least 15 games by now. He’s hoping for a few more wins with Hernandez finally in Columbus.

“When we see (Gyasi) Zardes leaving the Crew, we were like, ‘Ah man.’ But I see the team. They need somebody, a forward,” Rodriguez said. “We want to see the Crew get more wins. … We need some goals."

Hernandez can start training with the Crew immediately. He is expected to make his debut July 9 at Chicago Fire, once the transfer window opens July 7 and he can be added to the roster.

jmyers@dispatch.com

@_jcmyers

Get more Columbus Crew news by listening to our podcasts

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Crew striker Cucho Hernandez arrives in Columbus to fan greeting