FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas stayed close to home with its first round MLS SuperDraft pick as the club selected Duncanville, Texas native Nicky Hernandez out of Southern Methodist University with the 15th overall pick.
“It’s an honor to represent Dallas, to represent the crest and to represent the city,” Hernandez told FCDallas.com. “It’s something I’ve done with SMU but now at the professional level it’s going to be different. I’m excited because FC Dallas has always been (my) childhood club and someday (I thought) I might join.”
Hernandez - whose father, Edgar, played for FCD/Dallas Burn in 1998 - is an athletic box-to-box midfielder who signed with FCD’s USL League One affiliate North Texas SC last September. The 22-year-old was a revelation for NTSC over the second half of 2020, scoring three goals and adding an assist to help the club finish in third place. He was also named to USL League One’s Team of the Week for Game Week 10 after scoring his first pro goal to help the club earn a 1-1 draw away to FC Tucson.
“Nicky is a player that’s been in our backyard as a youth player,” said FC Dallas’ Director of Soccer Operations Marco Ferruzzi. “We’ve seen him grow and develop at SMU and he played with us at North Texas. He fits the bill in terms of character and ability on the ball. On and off the field, he’s our type of player. We like his locker room presence. We like the fact that he’s enjoying his first year as a pro with NTSC. He’s already shown that he’s capable and ready for more. He’s a great project for us, a great player and good human being so we’re excited about what comes next for him.”
Over three seasons with the Mustangs, Hernandez amassed 43 starts, eight goals and nine assists. He was named to the All-SMU Tournament Team in 2018 as well as the AAC All-Tournament Team the following year. Prior to his collegiate career, Hernandez captained the Dallas Texans SC U18 United States Development Academy team which reached the quarterfinals of the Dallas Cup in 2017.
Although Hernandez was signed with North Texas, he was still eligible for the SuperDraft since he left college with one year of NCAA eligibility remaining. Although there are mechanisms for an MLS club to protect a player contracted to its USL-affiliate, Hernandez didn’t fall under any of those mechanisms meaning another MLS team could have selected his MLS playing rights during the draft. Clearly, FC Dallas valued Hernandez highly enough to use its first-round pick to make sure he stayed in Dallas.
“I think he matriculated fairly quickly after coming straight into the team,” Ferruzzi said. “Speaking with Eric (Quill) and his (North Texas SC) coaching staff, he was almost an instant leader and brings a lot of that quality that he was displaying at SMU to North Texas. He showed his ability to play box-to-box, he’s shown his ability in the final third to score goals and proved that with three goals over the season. It’ a great start for him and we believe his ceiling is very high and we really feel like he’s going to take to it.”
“It makes it so much more exciting because I was born and raised here in Dallas,” Hernandez said. “I played against FC Dallas (youth teams) growing up, I played against Luchi Gonzalez when he coached in the Academy and now seeing him progress to the head coach. It’s a really a proud moment not just for me, but for my family.”