If Romario Williams is the biggest mystery on Atlanta United, then Jose Hernandez may be a close second.
Though he was one of the team’s first “new” acquisitions (not re-acquiring Jeff Larentowicz or Greg Garza) in the offseason, he has remained relatively unknown despite solid performances in the first two weeks of training camp.
“Of all the new guys we brought in he is probably the player I had seen the least of on action,” Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said. “But I think he can add stuff to our team. He’s a dynamic player. He will help us at left back and has a very good left foot. We will see over the course of the season how he is doing and developing and what his best role will be.”
The 20-year-old Hernandez, a left fullback, signed with Atlanta United after impressing in the U-20 World Cup and Caracas in his native Venezuela. He shares an agent with Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez, who helped him decide the next step in his career.
“(Martinez) told me a little bit about the team, the city, what Atlanta was like, and that’s why I decided to come here,” Hernandez said.
“For me making the jump out of my country is very good. The feeling I have here since I arrived has been amazing, with all my teammates and the coaching staff. I’m really appreciative of the way the team has received me and I hope to give my best and have a great season.”
Hernandez will compete with Garza for the starting position. Hernandez said he’s excited to learn from the U.S. men’s national team player. He said Caracas played a system similar to that of Martino.
He said he is comfortable in one-on-one situations on offense or defense. He has looked it in small-field drills in which the players have to control the ball, find an open teammate and make a pass in the length of time it took to read this sentence.
“He’s incredibly calm on the ball,” Jeff Larentowicz said. “He never seems flustered. Ball in the air, ball in the ground, he can clean it up and get it moving. He’s going to be fun to watch.
“He, Miguel (Almiron), Josef, Darlington (Nagbe) play with each other because I think that their level when they are on the ball and attackng is a very good. You can see it developing. Once the field opens up it will be fun to watch.”