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2017 Player Profiles: Jose Hernandez

A new addition to RSL, Hernandez showed skill in flashes of minutes.

MLS: MLS All-Star-Homegrown Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of Real Salt Lake’s 2017 additions, Jose Hernandez hasn’t exactly had many moments to impress as a professional — not on the field.

During 2017, he played 160 minutes over seven matches. He started one of those, playing 90 minutes in a 4-0 loss to New England in RSL’s dark days of May.

In June, Hernandez managed his first professional goal, and it was a good one. He and Sebastian Saucedo combined well to produce a good moment in a dim match. Hernandez, who had been on for about eight minutes at this point, kept a loss from looking worse than it was. It was a good goal that could have been great under different circumstances.

If you wanted to get a real look at how Hernandez plays the game, your best bet was against an unlikely opponent: Manchester United. He played 60 minutes and was easily one of the best RSL players in that 2-1 loss. It was probably the best opportunity to get a sense of how he plays.

Hernandez has one of the cleaner touches I’ve seen at Real Salt Lake, and that’s great. But the thing that makes a bigger difference is that Hernandez generally looks to be thinking one or two steps ahead of his first touch, and that’s the mark of a good player. That is especially important given his size, which we should talk about, too.

Jose Hernandez isn’t the tallest player on the team. In fact, he’s the shortest player on the team. It does add some difficulty to his game, but that shouldn’t be a reason to doubt him too significantly. You see, he compensates for that well by having a smart mentality, which is how most successful players operate anyway.

How Hernandez adapts to MLS next season will be a telling point in his career. He had a reasonable first season as a professional, and if he continues at this pace, he can be great in a few years.