MLS reinstates Sporting KC midfielder Felipe Hernandez from suspension

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez has been reinstated by Major League Soccer following his suspension last year for violation of the league’s gambling integrity rules and standards of conduct, it was announced Tuesday.

Last October, Hernandez was suspended for the remainder of the 2021 season after an independent investigation was launched and found that he placed wagers on two MLS matches. No evidence was found that Hernandez ever bet on an MLS match involving his own team. The investigation began last July after Hernandez disclosed to Sporting Kansas City that he was concerned about his personal safety due to his gambling debts.

Hernandez was eligible for reinstatement on Jan. 1 upon application to Commissioner Don Garber.

Now, the 23-year-old will be eligible to play when SKC's 2022 season begins Feb. 27 at Atlanta United.

"This is an opportunity for him, it's a second opportunity," Sporting KC manager and sporting director Peter Vermes told reporters. "He's got to be smart about it and I think he will be. We're providing him with all the assistance that he's needed.

"As a player on the field, he just comes back and he's got to try and get back into the form that he left the team last year with because he was actually in great form, his best soccer he's been playing. And he was playing significant minutes, so he's got preseason to work through that and try to make a spot for himself like anybody else."

Prior to the suspension, Hernandez featured in six matches (four starts) for SKC in 2021, scoring his first career MLS goal and recording two assists.

He originally joined SKC's first team in 2019 as a homegrown player after developing with their youth academy and now-MLS NEXT Pro side Sporting Kansas City II. His MLS career entails one goal and three assists across 24 games (13 starts).