[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Veteran midfielder Daniel Hernandez is moving into the coaching ranks, gradually. FC Dallas announced Wednesday Hernandez, 35, had signed a three-year contract that will add assistant coaching duties to his repertoire.
He will play the 2012 season, training camp for which starts Jan. 16, while also working as a coach, after which he and FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman will assess his future. Knee injuries have plagued him the past two seasons, during which he still managed to start 54 games.
“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. “He’s given us a lot more in the past two years than I think we could have anticipated.
“Daniel is such a great leader. 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.”
Hyndman, who coached Hernandez in his college career at SMU, says Hernandez played through painful knee problems that required draining before and after every game, and labored with a torn meniscus for much of the 2011 season.
Hernandez has played 61 games – and served as captain the past two seasons -- for FC Dallas since returning to MLS in 2009 after two years in the Mexican league. The Galaxy drafted him out of SMU in 1998 and in his 13-year MLS career he’s played 176 games, scored six goals, and registered 20 assists.
Starting in 2007 the native of Tyler, Texas, represented Mexican clubs Puebla, Jaguares, and Necaxa prior to joining his local team. He is among FCD’s busiest players serving community and charitable causes.
“We all saw the impact and leadership Daniel exhibited for FC Dallas on the field, but off the field he has been heavily involved in community initiatives, running free soccer clinics for underprivileged youth, serving as an ambassador for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and visiting local children’s hospitals,” said team CEO Doug Quinn in a press release.
“Daniel is very much a part of the FC Dallas family both on and off the field, and we are fortunate to have someone like him as a key ambassador for our club for years to come."