When FC Dallas decided not to re-sign Kevin Hartman, questions abounded on the direction of the goalkeeping position in Frisco.
Those seem to have been answered emphatically with Thursday's signing of 27-year-old Peruvian national team goalkeeper Raúl Fernández (above).
“I talked to the coach of the Peru national team, who is a friend, many times about him and what kind of individual he is,” FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a young goalkeeper with only positive things from everyone I talked to. I’m excited to have a goalkeeper of this level to join a group of goalkeepers at FC Dallas that we’re extremely excited to have.”
The move actually came about with the help of FCD’s last South American goalkeeper, Darío Sala. Now an agent who represents MLS players like Seattle's Mauro Rosales and Milovan Mirosevic of Columbus, Sala brought Fernández to Clavijo’s attention, which started the ball rolling.
“[Sala] recommended this player and for the last two months we’ve been in touch,” Clavijo said. “We sent our goalkeeper coach out there to see him, talk to him and watch him train and everything checked positive.
“Having Darío Sala’s point of view as well was big because he’s played in the league, played for the team and he knows what it takes to play in MLS.”
Fernández, the starter in six of Peru’s nine matches in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, joins FC Dallas looking for consistent playing time after a tough situation in France with multiple head coaches. While featuring prominently for Peru, he has struggled to find much playing time at Nice since signing abroad in late 2010.
Sitting behind young Colombian phenom David Ospina, Fernández was relegated mostly to French Cup action with just two Ligue 1 appearances to his name.
Despite being just 27 years old, Fernández is now the elder statesman of a Dallas goalkeeping stable loaded with young talent. Due in part to his American wife, the Peruvian is expected to acclimate quickly to Frisco, where he will battle it out with Chris Seitz for the top spot between the pipes while young starlet Richard Sanchez tests them both. The club parted ways with former starter Hartman after the 2012 season.
“These are all guys who want to play and are going to be pushing themselves with a healthy competition at that position,” Clavijo said. “It’s a very specific position, but we’re glad to be young there. We’re young and we’re very talented.”