FC Dallas are currently hunting for the last play-off place in the Western Conference and spear heading their quest is skipper Daniel Hernandez. The Dallas captain took time out of his busy schedule to chat to http://www.soccernightexclusive.wordpress.com about his ability to juggle coaching and playing as well as his long affiliation with Spurs new boy Clint Dempsey.

For all the British fans who are unfamiliar with you. How would you describe your playing style as well as your strengths ?

I’ am aggressive, I fight for every play, play with all heart, very calm and technical with the ball.

Strengths- hard on tackles, long balls, read the game well, calm in tight spaces and pressure.

What age did you get into soccer and How did you get into the sport ?

5 years old. My dad’s side of the family is from Mexico, so it is in our blood. Grew up on the soccer fields in my hometown at the adult mexican leagues.

Have you always wanted to become a professional soccer player ?

Always. Always dreamed of it since I was little.

During your growing up stage as a soccer player, who would you say was your biggest inspiration ?

My dad. Everything I learned, on and off the field, was from him. I idolized him. He was my coach since I was 6 years old, all the way through high school at the age of 17.

From a personal perspective, how has the MLS 2012 season gone for you thus far ?

Up and down! Everything that could happen to a team, has happened to us this year. That being said, we are a great team, full of great talent, still with a chance to get into the playoffs. It’s been tough, but wouldn’t want any other teammates to go through it with.

From an overall team view, how would the side describe the 2012 season so far ?

I think the same. Although it’s been a tough year, we will keep fighting till the end. No one has given up.

FC Dallas are currently occupying 6th spot in the Western Conference, with a play-off spot clearly in the offing. What would you say is the key factor to toppling Vancouver Whitecaps from that last play-off birth ?

Most important thing is to focus on our games, not theirs. We can’t do anything about their games, and if we don’t take care of our business, we can’t think about playoffs.

Being captain for any team is an honour for any player, How did the captaincy come about for you ?

After my 1st year with the club, Schellas, our coach, put his trust in me to be captain.

What does it feel like being captain of such a big MLS organisation ?

It is a great honour. Playing for my hometown team and for such a great organization and owners, it means that much more to be a leader. I lead this team with a lot of pride.

What qualities and attributes do you think are needed to become a successful captain.

1st and foremost, to be an example, on and off the field. Having the respect from your teammates, as well as respecting your teammates is vital. Being a leader is not only about what you do on the field, but in and out of the locker roomas well.

Schellas Hyndman is a well-respected coach in MLS. How would you describe his playing style and his attributes as a person ?

Great person and he has a very entertaining style of soccer. A lot of speed and possession too.

You are currently Assistant Coach at FC Dallas, How hard is it to combine the playing role with the coaching ?

It’s tough. Not only do I have to worry about my responsibilities as a player, but now doing what the coach asks of me as a coach. Having to stay after practice for meetings.

What does an Assistant Coach’s job consist of ?

Same as above.

Is coaching something you wish to pursue once you have hung up your soccer boots ?

Definitely. The club has given me a great opportunity to continue with the organization as a coach after my career.

In between spells at other MLS clubs such as New England Revolution you spent you’re playing career in the country of Mexico with Necaxa, Puebla and Jaguares de Chiapas.

How quick did it take you to settle into life in a new country ?

Didn’t take long. I know the country very well, as that’s where my family is from.

What did you miss most about USA during your time in Mexico ?

American restaurants, American TV shows, and most importantly, my family.

What was the standard of soccer like in a country renowned for a high level of soccer ?

Unbelievable experience. Great level of soccer with great tradition. Playing vs teams and in stadiums that have histories of over 100 years was a blessing.Great soccer culture.

From all the teams you played for in Mexico, what would you say were your highlights ?

My favourite team as a kid, as well as my family, was Club America. I had my family at the game at Azteca Stadium vs Club America, and scored a goal. Great feeling.

In the National team set up you played for the U 17’s, U18’s and U23’s sides respectively. How did it feel to represent your country ?

Great honour. Great experience to play with and against the best in the world at that level.

Do you have any regrets for not being recognised more to be a part of the USMNT ?

I will always feel regrets for the rest of my life, not knowing if I could have excelled at that level. I was never given the chance.

You played alongside Clint Dempsey at New England Revolution. Did you know then he was going to become as successful as he is ?

I knew he was a great talent, but I don’t think anyone would have ever imagined him to have such an unbelievable career so far. I knew he would be great. He is the man!

Do you still keep in touch with the Spurs New Boy ?

Yes. We are good friends. He is from East Texas, as am I. We grew up about 1hour from each other.

Where would you like to see you career in five years’ time ?

Tough to say. Don’t think I will still be playing, but definitely still involved with soccer. Possibly coaching in MLS or College.

What advice would you give to any youngsters who are looking to follow in your footsteps ?

Dream big, but know that very few make it as a pro. Always put education 1st because you can’t play forever. Self-discipline, attitude, and heart will take you anywhere you want to go.

Teammates

Loudest

Jair Benitez

Quietest

Zach Loyd

Best Friend

Not just 1

Best Trainer

? ? ? ? ?

Worse Trainer

? ? ? ? ?

Biggest Moaner

Kevin Hartman

Biggest Joker

Jair Benitez

Most Intelligent

Andrew Jacobson

Least Intelligent

? ? ? ? ?

Most Skilful

Bryan Leyva

Worse Taste In Music

Coach Drew Keeshan

Worse Dress Sense

Bobby Warshaw

Best Game Played

FCD vs LA Galaxy in Western Conference Championship in LA 2010.

Best Goal Scored

Vs Club America in Azteca Stadium in front of family

Best Player Played With

Most impressive was probably Carlos Valderrama in TampaBay

Best Player Played Against

Thierry Henry

Favourite MLS Stadium

FC Dallas

Team Supported Growing Up

Club America – Mexico

Favourite Food

Mexican

Favourite Drink

Dr. Pepper

Favourite Vacation Destination

Home!

Favourite Film

Scarface

Favourite Song

Any R&B

First Car

Nissan Maxima 1988

What would you do if you won $1million

Invest wisely

I would like to personally thank Daniel for his time and efforts during the interview process.

By Anthony Bedworth

@usbritain05

@maplesoccer123

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