FRISCO - For nearly seven seasons, he’s been the quiet leader of not only the FC Dallas back line, but the group as a whole.
On Saturday, as Dallas hosts Minnesota United FC, Matt Hedges is set to become just the third player in franchise history to play his 200th game. Since May 2012, the defender has been the most consistent face in the FCD lineup, missing just 21 games in total, mostly due to injury and international duty.
“It's a pretty special thing,” Dallas’ captain since 2014 said. “I can't imagine there are too many guys that have played 200 games for Dallas, or any club in the league. It's a pretty cool thing to have that many games.”
Hedges will soon keep company with club legends Jason Kreis and Bobby Rhine in the 200 Club.
In fact, in the 23-year history of MLS, only 144 players all-time have reached the 200-game mark. Only 49 have done so with a single club.
FCD All-Time GP Leaders
FCD Current GP Leaders
“This is a testament of who Matt is,” head coach Oscar Pareja said of the mark. “[His] consistency despite his years - because he's still a young player - has accumulated a number of games in a team that shows a lot of belonging. It's great for Matt and great to know that we have him.”
“He’s always one of the most consistent players out there,” Homegrown Reggie Cannon said. “He's always that solid foundation in the back, giving us that presence on set pieces offensively or defensively, he's always going to be there or always going to be covering. As the captain, you expect that of him. He's always been a great motivation for me and he's been that solid foundation for us in the back.”
His meaning to the club, though, goes much further than statistics and accolades. The undisputed leader in the locker room doesn’t resort to clichés and big speeches. Instead, the captain leads by doing.
“I'm not always the most vocal guy, I try to be when it's necessary, but just leading by example is the main way,” Hedges said. “Leading by example. Going out to training everyday and working as hard as I can. Going into the gym and working hard. Getting recovery. Showing the young guys what it's like being a professional. I think that's my way of leadership.”
“He's a very passionate guy, but he doesn't seem like it with very few words spoken,” Cannon said. “He's a guy who leads with his body and a guy who leads with his actions more than his words. Actions do speak louder than words. He shows us on the field that he's capable of stepping up in that role and giving us the energy we need in those games and he's a very strong captain.”
In simplest terms, Matt Hedges represents everything that is FC Dallas.
“To have someone who represents the culture, who represents the club, who represents Major League Soccer, somebody who embraces many areas and collects it into one is great.” Pareja added. “Matt has done a great job in that part and we hope that he can have many more.”