Toward the end of the FC Dallas Kickoff Luncheon on Thursday, Daniel Hernandez was called to the podium. The new team captain gave a relatively brief but heartfelt speech, and even worked in a movie reference for good measure.
After hearing his simple but powerful message, those in attendance knew FCD had found a true leader for the 2010 season, especially given his speech was mostly off the cuff.
“[I prepared] a little bit; they just told me about it yesterday so I tried to get my thoughts together,” Hernandez admitted after the speech. “Most of it [was off the cuff]. … It works your nerves like anything else. I would say I’m decent at it. I’m an OK speaker and don’t have too many problems doing it.”
Hernandez played college ball under current FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman at SMU, and he joined Dallas last summer after a successful stint in Mexico that lasted several years. He quickly became FCD’s starting defensive midfielder and early on showed signs of the leadership required to wear the armband this year.
However, Hernandez admitted he had no aspirations to captain the club when he arrived back in Dallas last summer.
“Not really—it probably didn’t cross my mind,” Hernandez said. “After coming in at the end of the season, you already think that there is a captain, so you wouldn’t expect any changes for next year.
“I was so far from thinking about it because I was more excited about being home and being back with Schellas.”
Wearing the armband for his former college coach, with whom he maintains a close personal relationship, gives the captaincy added meaning.
“It means a lot,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s a respect thing. It really makes me feel good and appreciative towards him because I know he looks at me as a leader."
Hernandez said he has always cared what Hyndman thinks of him.
“When I was with other teams or in Mexico playing, I always thought about it and hoped that I was making him proud,” Hernandez said. “That’s just the type of relationship I have with him.”
The two even exchange gifts around the holidays, and Hernandez said he feels a great responsibility in his role because of their relationship.
“I want to try and do a great job for Schellas, who I feel is a great friend to me besides being my coach and the leader of this team,” he said. " I think we're going to have a great season, and I just hope the fans continue to come out and support us because I think it will be well worth it this year."
The new FC Dallas captain will get the 2010 regular season underway along with the rest of his teammates on Saturday when Houston visits Pizza Hut Park for an afternoon tilt. Appropriately enough, the first 5,000 fans in the gate will receive an official FC Dallas Captain's Armband. And for Hernandez, wearing that armband will have no small meaning.
"I just feel real humbled and excited and proud to be able to carry that armband here at home in front of my family and friends," Hernandez said. “Everybody knows that Houston is always a tough team to play regardless of when you play them or what the circumstances are. With the slow start that we had last year, everybody is expecting us to really pick it up and have a better start.”