FC Dallas announced today that they have re-signed team captain Daniel Hernandez to a new three year contract as a player and coach. Hernandez will play at least one more season before moving into the coaching ranks full time.
Re-signing Hernandez was a critical move for FCD this winter in my opinion. No player in the history of this club has impacted the team more in on field performance based on his off field actions. No player has commanded the locker room nor run the player group like Hernandez does. Not Bobby Rhine, not Oscar Pareja, and not even Leonel Alverez; none of them had such a direct impact just through leadership.
Add to his leadership the (at least so it seems at this point) irreplaceable nature of Hernandez's game and FCD really needed this singing. Hernandez clogs up the middle of the park and reads the game like few others. FCD really suffers when he is missing form the lineup.
On the down side, Hernandez is 34. He's coming off back to back season with knee injuries. He simply can't play every game anymore. It's vitally important for FCD to find someone who can play in about half the games next year so Hernandez can be healthy at crunch time.
It's also important is for FCD to find a eventual replacement for Hernandez. Is that player on the roster not? Andrew Jacobson? Bobby Warshaw? Maybe even Jackson? FCD needs to find out, cause if said replacement isn't here now FCD has about a year to find one.
The coaching part of this deal is a great move by FCD. Hernandez is a perfect player to transition to coaching under Schellas Hyndman as Hernandez totally buys into the coaching method, system, and style. By adding coaching to his job description, FCD can also move some of Hernandez's compensation off the playing salary roster (into a longer term security coaching salary) where his number was beginning to become a liability given his age. FCD simply couldn't afford to have a 34 year old holding mid on the roster at $160k/$172k.
This then looks like an optimum solution. Time will tell of course if the captain's knee can make it through another season (or more?). Yes, it's time to see someone else get a large chuck of PT in the middle, or several someones if need be, even if its' just to keep Hernandez healthy.
But overall a terrific move by FCD to bring back the captain and transition him into coaching.