FRISCO, Texas – It might be the toughest goodbye in FC Dallas history. Matt Hedges, the club’s all-time appearance leader, bids farewell after 11 seasons in Dallas and joins Toronto FC as a free agent.
A captain, a fan-favorite, and a quiet but dependable leader, Hedges donned FCD colors 349 times, scored 25 goals from his center back position and won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and MLS Supporters’ Shield.
Hedges is a three-time All-Star, was twice voted into the MLS Best XI and was named the league’s Defender of the Year after leading the team to a cup double in 2016. The accolades and adoration he earned place him firmly in the conversation for the club’s greatest-ever player. And if it weren’t for the goal-scoring brilliance of Jason Kreis in the team’s Dallas Burn era, Hedges would be the clear choice.
“Matt Hedges is an amazing human being and he's been such a great leader here,” said FC Dallas President Dan Hunt. “There are so many good memories: the 2016 team, probably the best team we've ever had here, winning the Lamar Hunt Open Cup, and then also winning the Supporters’ Shield. He's been a stalwart. He's played a lot of big games for this club and been part of a lot of big moments.
“If you had to describe Matt, I would say consistent excellence. With Matt, you knew what you were gonna get. You knew the work ethic, the leadership, the person he is. He is a quiet leader but when you needed him, he was in there fighting for it.”
As difficult as it is emotionally to say goodbye to Matt the person, it’ll be just as tough to lose Matt the player. Even at 32 years old, Hedges was a rock for the FCD backline, making 26 starts to help earn the best defensive record in the Western Conference. It was the ninth time in his 11 seasons Hedges made 25 league starts or more. How does FCD replace a figure so central to its on-field identity for more than a decade?
“You don’t. You don't ever fill a void like that,” Hunt said. “You just have to figure out how you adapt. Really, the game is about adapting.
“There’s no replacing somebody like him, as the player or the person. But it's just how we adapt and evolve and work within the constraints that we have. We're focused on building an even better team this next year, but that's a big hole for us to fill. But we wish him and his family the best. We love him and we love them and hopefully one day they'll come home.”
Hedges will go down as an all-time FC Dallas great. Maybe the greatest. In any case, his name will be long remembered in Dallas.
Thank you, Matt.