After two years at Real Salt Lake, Jose Hernandez’s stint appears to be over.
But there’s something weird about all of this for me. His first year saw him make seven appearances, scoring one goal. His second year — this year — he made no appearances.
In part, that’s because he became a semi-regular player for Real Monarchs. But at the same time, our USL side didn’t support growth in a meaningful way, with only nine starts in his 20 appearances. He played a distinct second fiddle to the on-roster Monarchs players, and I really do think we need to keep figuring out the value there.
In a sense, it’s actually a shame that a profile of Jose Hernandez has to focus in on that point. For me, he was always one of the more interesting players we had on our roster. He was never going to be a strong physical presence, but as we saw in, say, the 2017 friendly against Manchester United, he can make that work for him.
Remember when he beat Marouane Fellaini with a flick over his head? That’s a size mismatch if there’s ever been one, and he didn’t struggle to make things happen. For me, that’s who Jose Hernandez is.
In a sense, though, Hernandez fell victim to the success of Albert Rusnak. They’ve been here the same length of time at the club, and while obviously Rusnak was always going to be the starter, there was little opportunity for Hernandez to get minutes in his preferred position.
We can accept that logic with Real Salt Lake, but with Real Monarchs? There, for me, is little reason we shouldn’t be supporting the growth of one of our homegrown players on our second side. It’s a shame that Hernandez was a victim of the structure of that roster, because we know have to wonder what could have been. Maybe things wouldn’t be much different, but he’d have had a true chance.
I’m very curious what happens with Hernandez’s career. This is, for me, the hardest part of homegrown players: Sometimes, we let them walk long before they have a chance to really show what they’re worth. Hernandez is only 22, which is pretty young for a midfielder. Maybe we know enough at this point to understand what he can become, but there are always so many unknowns.