GUATEMALA CITY – On the surface, Moises Hernandez’s loan to Guatemalan side Comunicaciones is clearly about additional playing time to spur development for the young defender.
The storied Guatemalan club, though, is hoping that it turns into much more than that.
To be sure, Comunicaciones expect Hernandez to contribute immediately, but they’re also interested in the long-term possibilities suggested by a link to MLS and FC Dallas, one of the league’s premier producers of young talent.
“We had a need at that position,” the club’s general manager, Roberto Alfaro, told MLSsoccer.com. “But this could also mean more. We hope this leads to a fruitful relationship with FC Dallas, and we can see a two-way process of players moving here and also up there.”
The 24-time league champion Cremas are looking to retool for the 2012 Apertura, following consecutive playoff exits at the hands of arch rival Municipal. Last spring, Comunicaciones ran away with the regular season only to fall to los Rojos in the semifinal round of the playoffs, sparking a significant player shuffle.
The club parted ways with a number of veterans, including MLS all-time leading scorer Jeff Cunningham, and has restocked with young talent – a plan that includes the six-month loan for Guatemalan-American Hernandez.
“We’d had our eye on Hernandez since the World Cup qualifiers,” Alfaro said, referring to the CONCACAF U-20 championship played last spring in Guatemala City, during which Hernandez represented the US. “He’s a skilled player who we expect to battle for a spot, and at the same time, he wasn’t being used much in Dallas right now.”
Loaning a player internationally may seem a little unusual for an MLS team, but it’s a move that could pay dividends given the experience Hernandez is likely to garner at a high level in Guatemala. The pressure never ceases for players on a team expected to take home the title every tournament.
If Los Cremas have their way, though, the move could set another precedent. According to one representative involved in the deal, the team’s management is interested in expanding the search for Guatemalan talent born and bred in the US.
“The board knows the talent is there,” said Juan Diego Muñoz, an agent involved in the Hernandez deal. “Now they want to set out on a mission to find it. It’s a matter of opening frontiers.”
Guatemalan teams are limited to four non-national players, creating a talent crunch for clubs hoping to compete at the international level. But Guatemalan-Americans don’t count against that limit. Much as Mexican clubs have sought out Mexican-American talent to help overcome foreign roster limits, Comunicaciones is apparently plotting a similar strategy.
For Hernandez, however, it’s all about getting a chance to play some meaningful games. Having arrived in Guatemala just last week for training camp, he’ll now turn around and head back to the States, as Comunicaciones kick off their preseason with a series of friendlies against Salvadoran side Luis Ángel Firpo later this week in the New York metro area.