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Toronto FC complete surprise signing of defender Jason Hernandez

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The ex-New York City and San Jose Earthquakes centre-back adds further depth to the back line.

MLS: LA Galaxy at New York City FC Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC added some veteran depth to their back line on Tuesday by completing the surprise signing of defender Jason Hernandez.

Hernandez, 33, becomes the seventh central defender on the Reds’ first-team roster, though his arrival would seem to suggest that Brandon Aubrey and Johan Brunell may not see major minutes this season. It is also worth noting that Drew Moor is the only player in that position over the age of 25.

The Puerto Rico international was born in New York City and played for his hometown team NYCFC last year, making 31 appearances and 26 starts. He filled in at right-back on occasion for Patrick Vieira and could provide extra cover for Steven Beitashour, though he is not likely to offer much attacking intent on the wing.

“For me, it’s less where I see myself fitting in and more the staff and what the team needs,” Hernandez said. “On most of the clubs I’ve been on, for whatever reason, I’ve been able to find the field, so my job here is just to be a good teammate, train hard, train well and if I’m pushing the guys in front of me, to do that and that be my role, or if it’s to step on and contribute to the team getting wins, it’ll be in that role.

“I’m here to just work and be someone reliable and someone the team can trust.”

Hernandez spent six years with the San Jose Earthquakes, where he was a teammate of Beitashour and Justin Morrow, and also had a spell with Chivas USA after starting his career with the NY/NJ MetroStars.

He probably slots in as experienced cover in the middle of Toronto’s defence, should the worst happen and Moor be unavailable for any period of time, while also being versatile enough to play on the outside of the back three or, as mentioned, as a more defensive option at wing-back. Hernandez’s acquisition leaves TFC with one open slot on the senior roster.