FRISCO – Over the past two months, veteran midfielder Daniel Hernandez has had to adjust to the unfamiliar position of coming off the bench with the arrival of Julian de Guzman.
But with the Canadian international suspended for yellow card accumulation, Hernandez is in line to make his first start since August 18 in a game that just might decide if FC Dallas can reach the postseason yet again.
FCD, who trail the Vancouver Whitecaps by five points with two games remaining for both teams, travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders on Sunday (8 p.m. CT on ESPN). The Whitecaps host Portland the same night.
“He’s played a lot of great games for us and a lot of great games in his career,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said of Hernandez. “This should be a no-brainer here that he should go out and perform.”
While de Guzman has brought something missing to the FCD midfield since arriving in July, the emotional and imposing presence of Hernandez in the middle of the park has been noticeably absent in recent weeks. Dallas have relinquished leads in the second half of their last two matches and with no margin for error on Sunday, Hyndman is looking forward to having Hernandez’s experience and leadership back on the pitch.
“He brings a little bit more leadership and more knowledge about Seattle,” Hyndman said. “Maybe a little bit more falling into his role where there’s not as much of an adjustment of other teammates to him.”
Leadership is certainly the word you hear out of everyone’s mouth when asked about Hernandez, and his presence back on the field should be something that raises the morale of the entire squad.
“It’s huge,” midfielder Andrew Jacobson said. “He’s seen everything and been in every situation. He gets a lot out of people and demands a lot out of everyone in a way that lifts you. It’s something that a lot of people aren’t born with and he’s got it for sure.”
While Hernandez has seen his starts dip to 24 from a career-high 30 last season, he insisted his attitude hasn't changed in his fourth season in Dallas.
“Nothing has ever changed for me,” Hernandez said. “Every time I step on the field, I try to be a leader for this team and try to lead by example. So I’m going to continue to do that and hopefully it will give us a little extra push on Sunday.”