To many observers, this offseason seemed to portend the end of the Daniel Hernandez era in Dallas. But the truth is, his time with FCD has just begun.
Hernandez and the team agreed to a three-year deal on Wednesday that will keep the veteran midfielder at Pizza Hut Park. Hernandez will continue to play for FC Dallas in 2012, but will ultimately transition to a role as an assistant coach under manager Schellas Hyndman.
“Daniel’s been a huge part of the team’s success that we’ve had the past two years, and his playing speaks for itself,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday evening of his longtime charge, who he also coached back in his college days at SMU. “He’s given us a lot more in the past two years than I think we could have anticipated.”
With his playing days likely winding down once 2012 concludes, the organization made a special effort to keep the Texas native with the club beyond next season. Hernandez is signed through 2014, and will serve as a player/coach much as LA Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter did in 2011.
“Daniel is such a great leader,” Hyndman said of Hernandez’s qualifications as a coach. “People see his leadership skills on the field, but they don’t see his qualities in the locker room and his day-to-day interactions with coaches and players.”
But staying on the field has been a constant struggle for the 35-year-old defensive midfielder, who has overcome a variety of knee injuries over the past two seasons to start 54 games.
“The last two years have also taken a lot out of him,” admitted Hyndman. “Last season, watching him get his knee drained before and after every game. This year, he played almost four months with a torn meniscus.”
According to Hyndman, Hernandez has been receiving treatment and rehabbing every day this offseason with an eye on returning for the beginning of camp on Jan. 16.
In a statement released by the club, FC Dallas president and CEO Doug Quinn reiterated Hyndman’s sentiment, praising Hernandez’s efforts on the field and within the community.
“Daniel is very much a part of the FC Dallas family both on and off the field," Quinn said, "and we are fortunate to have someone like him as a key ambassador for our club for years to come.”