COLUMBUS — Columbus Crew today announced a record transaction as the Crew has acquired 23-year-old Colombian forward Juan Camilo “Cucho” Hernandez (pronounced: COO-cho), who joins the Club as a Young Designated Player. Hernandez joins from English side Watford F.C., with the forward most recently playing in the English Premier League. The transfer represents the largest acquisition fee in Club history.
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Upon the official opening of the Major League Soccer secondary transfer window on July 7, Hernandez will officially be added to the Black & Gold roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa, also occupying an international roster spot. His contract with the Club will run through the 2025 season. Additional information on his first training session, introductory media availability and first match for the Black & Gold will be announced in the near future.
“Cucho is a world-class player who is still at an early stage of his career, and we could not be more excited to welcome him to the Columbus Crew,” said Columbus Crew President & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Our goal was to sign a forward who would not only be an individual attacking threat, but who would make us more dangerous as a team. Cucho is a versatile attacker whose agility, mobility and unpredictability make him a constant threat for opponents as he has demonstrated while playing against top-level opponents in some of the best leagues in Europe. I want to specially thank Caleb as well as Issa Tall, Neil McGuinness and the rest of our soccer administration team who were involved in securing Cucho’s signature, as their efforts were pivotal in making this deal happen.”
Continued Bezbatchenko: “As good as Cucho is, we believe he can be even better in MLS. There were many teams from top leagues around the world who were after Cucho and it is a testament to the ambitious project we have created in Columbus that he chose to come here. The signing of Cucho signifies the largest acquisition fee in Club history, and that would not have been possible without the Haslam, Johnson and Edwards families’ investment and support. Whether through player signings or improving our environment with the top-class Lower.com Field and OhioHealth Performance Center, our investor-operators have consistently shown that they are committed to ensuring the Crew is a team that contends for championships.”
WATCH | Welcome to Columbus, Cucho Hernandez
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Hernandez spent the 2021-2022 season with Watford F.C., making 28 appearances across all competitions while scoring five goals and providing three assists. The forward made his club debut in a 2021 Premier League home match against Aston Villa FC (August 14), scoring just 49 seconds after coming off the bench. With the goal – which turned out to be the game-winner – Hernandez became the first Colombian player to score in his Premier League debut. Following the end of the 2021-2022 season, the striker was awarded Watford’s Goal of the Season award for his bicycle kick strike in a match against Arsenal FC.
Additionally, Hernandez became the fifth player in LaLiga history to score as a visiting player at both FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou and Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in one season before the age of 20. He is also the first player since Argentine forward Sergio Aguero to accomplish the feat, as well as the first Colombian player to do so.
"Signing a top-level player at the striker position was our main priority this transfer window and we are ecstatic to sign an elite difference-maker like Cucho,” said Columbus Crew Head Coach Caleb Porter. “Despite being just 23 years of age, he has shown a nose for goal against top level European opposition, and we firmly believe that he will flourish in our league. We are excited to get to work with Cucho and know the quality he brings to our squad will be a massive lift for our season.”
Continued Porter: “Cucho and Lucas Zelarayan together have the potential to be one of the top duos in MLS. This investment is a testament to the belief our ownership group has in this Club and our commitment to championship ambitions year in and year out. As we enter the halfway point of the season, we feel this is the missing piece to push us over the top. We are looking forward to Cucho’s integration into our game model as we believe he can be that consistent goal scorer we’ve been looking for to turn our positive play into more consistent results.”
The Pereira-born forward made his professional debut with Deportivo Pereira of Colombia’s Second Division in 2015, making 20 appearances and scoring three goals in his first season. In 2016, his second season with Deportivo Pereira, Hernandez scored 20 goals and provided four assists to finish as the leading scorer of Colombia’s Second Division. 2016 also saw Hernandez register his first hat trick, as the then 16-year-old scored three goals against Tigres FC (July 13). Following his outstanding 2016 performance, Hernandez signed with America de Cali of Colombia’s topflight.
After spending the first half of 2017 with America de Cali, Hernandez played for Spanish Second Division side S.D. Huesca from 2017-2019. In his first season in Spain, the forward helped Huesca earn promotion to LaLiga, Spain’s First Division. In all, Hernandez played for Huesca from 2017-2019, making 70 appearances while registering 20 goals and nine assists. The Colombian striker then joined LaLiga side RCD Mallorca for the 2019-2020 season, making 24 appearances while tallying five goals and one assist. Hernandez played for LaLiga side Getafe CF from 2020-2021, making 23 appearances, scoring two goals and providing three assists.
Where did the nickname 'Cucho' come from?
At the international level, Hernandez has earned two caps for the Colombia National Team. The forward made his debut for Los Cafeteros in a 2018 friendly against Costa Rica (October 17), scoring two goals in a 3-1 win, including the game-winning goal.
At the youth level, Hernandez has represented Colombia’s Under-20 National Team. In 2017, he made nine appearances at the 2017 South American Youth Football Championship, registering two goals and two assists. Hernandez also played at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he made five appearances and scored three goals while helping Colombia reach the Quarterfinals of the tournament.
Columbus Crew Cucho #9 jerseys are now available for purchase only at the Crew Shop at Lower.com Field.
TRANSACTION: Columbus Crew acquires forward Juan “Cucho” Hernandez as a Young Designated Player from English side Watford F.C. on June 21, 2022. He will officially be added to the Black & Gold roster upon the official opening of the Major League Soccer secondary transfer window on July 7, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa, also occupying an international roster spot. His contract with the Club will run through the 2025 season.
Name: Juan Camilo “Cucho” Hernandez (COO-cho)
Born: April 20, 1999, in Pereira, Colombia
Hometown: Pereira, Colombia
Acquired: Acquired as a Young Designated Player, announced on June 21, 2022
Previous Experience: Watford F.C. (2017-2022), Getafe CF (2020-2021), RCD Mallorca (2019-2020), S.D. Huesca (2017-2019), America de Cali (2017), Deportivo Pereira (2015-2016)
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