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MVP-caliber Cucho powers Columbus Crew: “He’s doing what he loves” | MLSSoccer.com

MVP-caliber Cucho powers Columbus Crew: “He’s doing what he loves” | MLSSoccer.com

COLUMBUS – The reigning MLS Cup presented by Audi champions are rolling.

Saturday’s 3-0 win over previously-unbeaten New York Red Bulls was described by many in the Columbus Crew locker room as a “perfect win,” that was in large part fueled by star striker Cucho Hernández.

“He was supposed to score more goals,” head coach Wilfried Nancy joked amid the celebrations at Lower.com Field.

In all seriousness, Nancy and Co. are reveling in the hot start Cucho is enjoying.

Cucho’s 13th-minute opener marked his third of the young season and fourth in six all-competition matches, including the Concacaf Champions Cup. He also assisted on Jacen Russell-Rowe‘s 56th-minute tally, creating a breakaway opportunity with a perfectly weighted pass.

“Massive respect to Cucho,” said Nancy. “Because every game he breaks new records in terms of acceleration, distribution, and so on.”

Doing the dirty work

The records Nancy mentions are about the work the Colombian international does that doesn’t show up in the box scores. They’re traits that allow Cucho to remain consistent in each contest amid a grueling five-game stretch in 15 days.

“He’s a big-time player for us,” midfielder Aidan Morris said. “He provides a lot attacking and defensively, and I think you struggle to see that honestly, guys who can do both – and he can do both.”

Doing the dirty work, so to speak, is not in every striker’s ethos or skill set. But in Cucho’s case, it’s the level of effort that his teammates have come to expect.

“Everyone gets the perception that those guys are big time, and he’s just level-headed.” Morris shared of the club-record signing. “He’s just like everyone else, man. He’s a soccer player.

“He’s doing what he loves. And we’re all the same. So, I think he personifies that and he’s a great role model for other guys as well. He’s just a good guy to share a locker room with.”

The year ahead

Cucho, who posted 16 goals with 11 assists during the Crew’s championship crusade in 2023, has set a high bar for himself – and making a habit of “breaking his own records” could see him hit a new gear during his third season in Columbus.

With an MLS Cup already part of his legacy, Cucho is among the players who could realistically add a Golden Boot presented by Audi or Landon Donovan MLS MVP trophy to his collection of hardware.

“I like to ask my players to be limitless, so there are no ceilings,” Nancy said. “So, the challenge I will give to Cucho is: You make many runs, you made good actions – is it possible to do more actions like this?

“…He wants to get better. And for me, this is the most important because I can give him tools and also I can adjust myself also regarding what he needs.”

This week will offer a bit of a break for Cucho and the defending champions. No weekday matches are in the way of their trip to Charlotte FC on Saturday, March 23 (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

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