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Sporting KC 2020 Year in Review: Felipe Hernandez

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A breakout year for the young midfielder.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City
Kansas City, Kansas, USA; Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez (21) and San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Judson (93) fight for the ball during the match at Children’s Mercy Park.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLS season has come to an end and much like we did in 2019 for Sporting Kansas City, it’s time to look back at how each player performed. Keep in mind the stats look diminished for many players, but just 21 regular season games were played in this COVID shortened season (instead of the typical 34). For the full list of players reviewed, head to our dedicated Year in Review page.


The Blue Testament continues our look back at 2020 with another Homegrown player who exceeded the goals I had for him — Felipe Hernandez.

2020 Stats

Games Played (Started): 16 (8)

Minutes Played: 778

Goals: 0

Hernandez was second on SPR in scoring in 2018, so I’d like to see him find those scoring boots for the first team and make some better timed attacking runs.

Assists: 1

xG (expected goals): 0.73

Positions Played: Box-to-Box Midfielder

2019 Salary: $56,250

2020 Salary: Unknown - But likely at or slightly above 2019.

Contract Through (Option Years): 2021 (2022)

Best Moment of 2020

I’m going to keep being dark and talk about opportunities that came because of injuries. On August 29th, Roger Espinoza went down with an injury against the Colorado Rapids. Hernandez got the call to come into the match and he would start the next six straight and play in 12 of the next 13 games. When you are given an opportunity, you must seize it.

Worst Moment of 2020

Not a moment necessarily, but how tentative he was this year. What I’d like to see from Felipe is that free flowing, aggressive style that he showed continuously in the USL with Sporting KC II/Swope Park Rangers (and showed flashes of in MLS — Real Salt Lake in MLS is Back please). When he played free, he seemed like a world beater. But often it’s as though Vermes was in his ear saying, ‘don’t make any mistakes’ and he played too tight. Or maybe that’s how he was thinking going into the games. This progress will come with time and confidence.

Interesting Stat

3-4-1. That’s Felipe Hernandez’s record as a starter in 2020. Not ideal considering Sporting only lost 6 regular season games all year. Losing is a team effort, but the midfield often didn’t look good in losses, allowing teams to come straight up the gut and take on an, at times, overmatched defense. It’ll be interesting to see how many of the midfield minutes go to Hernandez, the returning Roger Espinoza or someone else in 2021.

Fan Vote Results

Pick up 2021 Option: 83.8%

Decline 2021 Option: 10.8%

Pick up 2021 Option and Sell: 5.4%

Frankly, I’m surprised more than 16 percent want to move on from Hernandez. He’s incredibly cheap and he’s still super young (22). He may be the future replacement for Roger Espinoza (and Roger is pretty high on him saying he’s way ahead of Roger at this age). Also, did I mention he’s cheap? You have to fill the bottom of the roster with guys at or near the minimum and Hernandez has some real potential. I have no doubt he’ll get his 2022 option picked up too. I will admit I have a soft spot for Homegrowns, especially someone like Hernandez who had to come through the second team to get to the first.