Jason Hernandez brings down the curtain on his two years at NYCFC with nothing but fond memories from his time at the club.
A native New Yorker and a boyhood Yankees fan, the defender describes the experience of representing a team at Yankee Stadium in MLS as “a dream realized”.
There was an outpouring of appreciation for the 33-year old from supporters on Monday as the rosters options were announced and Hernandez wanted to express his gratitude to the fans.
“I had the opportunity to be a part of the creation of this club along with the fans and we all put our heart and soul into it,” he told NYCFC.com.
“Over the last two years we’ve made a lot of memories and it was really nice to hear the support and the appreciation from the fanbase – I appreciate that very much. It was a really nice, pleasant surprise which I’m really thankful for.
“It means a great deal to me – the club is an historic project which will be a staple for soccer and the league for a long time. To be a part of that was very special and I’ll look back on it in the future with fond memories.
“My story is a little bit unique in that I was a supporter of Yankees baseball growing up and looked at Yankee Stadium as a kind of cathedral of sorts.
“For me, it was a dream realized – a lot of children dream of playing in that stadium so it was special just to play in front of my family and friends there – it meant a lot.”
Hernandez joined NYCFC as a sixth-round pick in the 2014 Expansion Draft and went on to represent the team on 57 occasions.
The defender found it difficult to choose just one favorite memory from his two years at the club, but on a personal level, one match stood out over the rest.
“Those are more team oriented moments that are special to me, but for me personally, probably the win at Portland this year,” Jason remembered.
“We had a very tough game on the road against the defending champions and I got to win Man of the Match and I had a crazy game playing with my jersey ripped off in the middle of the match.
“On a team basis there a few favorite memories – one was the first-ever match at Yankee Stadium. It was a cold day but an historic one.
“Another was being able to secure a Playoffs berth this season as that was the realization of a lot of hard work and blood and sweat over the last two years to achieve that goal.
“That was something special."
Although his time at NYCFC has come to an end, this is far from the end of Jason’s story.
Hernandez feels as though he still has plenty to offer the game and hopes to return to Yankee Stadium on the opposite side next season.
He’d be sure of a warm welcome.
Hernandez added: “I think I’m lucky enough that I fit the criteria to be a free agent in Major League Soccer, so I’m looking to explore any and all opportunities.
“I’m going to let the cards fall where they may but playing 31 matches for the club this past year I feel like I have a lot of yards left in my legs so I would imagine this isn’t the end of the road for me.”