San Antonio FC has signed attacking playmaker Jorge Hernandez to its squad, bringing aboard a creative 22-year-old who figures to offer a lot in the final third for the side. | Photo courtesy San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC announced on Tuesday the club had acquired Jorge Hernandez via transfer from KV Mechelen of the Belgian Pro League and had signed the talented attacking midfielder to a new multi-year contract with SAFC.
“We are thrilled to add Jorge to the team,” said SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina in the club's press release. “He is a tremendous addition who proved to be among the elite playmakers in the USL Championship, leading in chances created in the 2021 season. Jorge can break down opponents off the dribble, connect a game-defining pass, and execute the final action on goal. He is an ultra-competitive two-way player which is essential in our aggressive game model.”
Here are three things San Antonio fans can expect their new arrival to deliver.
Hernandez had shown flashes of potential since making his debut in the Championship for the LA Galaxy II as a 16-year-old USL Academy signing in the 2017 season, but in 2021 he put all the pieces together. With 12 goals and six assists, Hernandez showed off his eye for goal and a creativity that could have been more greatly rewarded if not for profligate finishing from his teammates.
Hernandez led the Championship with 91 chances created in the regular season and posted an Expected Assists mark of 8.52xA, a notable underperformance to his final total. On top of that he showed quality from range with his shooting, finishing the season with a 64.3 percent shooting accuracy rate on unblocked shots that helped contribute to his success in front of goal.
One of the staples for San Antonio’s success over the past two years has been its ability to deliver from set pieces. In Hernandez, the side is adding another player who can both deliver quality service to others and find the net individually when given the opportunity.
Hernandez finished tied for first in the Championship alongside new teammate Fabien Garcia – then playing for Austin Bold FC – with three goals directly from free kicks and had five goals from outside the penalty area overall, the most of any player in the Championship that season. On top of that he recorded 28 chances created from set plays, ranking sixth in the league, something that should offer meat and drink to targets like Mitchell Taintor, Justin Dhillon and Niko Hansen.
There’s been a lot said about San Antonio’s game model and the club’s desire to play aggressively without the ball to create opportunities. In adding Hernandez, it should offer the side a needed new wrinkle to that plan with the 22-year-old highly capable of progressing the ball at his feet and with quality passing.
In 2021, Hernandez ranked sixth in the league in completed dribbles with 62, putting him at a similar level to the likes of current Louisville City FC winger Enoch Mushagalusa and FC Tulsa’s Marcus Epps. That quality was supplemented by an impressive level of precision in the final third of the field, where Hernandez tied for fourth in the league in completed passes in the attacking third, completing 382 of 495 passes. That’s a 77.2 percent accuracy rate – significantly higher than SAFC’s current accuracy rate of 51.8 percent – meaning Hernandez should provide more cutting edge for the side in possession.