Hernandez happy and ready to perform for Atlanta United

Atlanta United defender Ronald Hernandez #2 kicks the ball during the preseason scrimmage against Charleston Battery at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday March 20, 2021. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
Atlanta United defender Ronald Hernandez #2 kicks the ball during the preseason scrimmage against Charleston Battery at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday March 20, 2021. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

Aberdeen player is on loan with MLS club; his family is with him

Ronald Hernandez is happy and healthy. More important, so is his family.

Like many people, the Atlanta United fullback experienced a difficult 2020.

He moved from Stabaek in Norway to Scotland’s Aberdeen in a club-record transfer in January. Because of COVID-19 restrictions on travel, the club was unable to move Hernandez’s family from Venezuela. He spent most of the year without them. He said he would FaceTime with them 2-3 times a day.

After playing well enough in Norway to receive numerous call-ups to Venezuela’s national team, he failed to impress with the Reds, making only six appearances totaling 220 minutes. Finally, near the end of the year, the club allowed him to leave during the season so that he could fly home.

A few weeks later, Atlanta United acquired him on loan. His family, a wife and daughter, are here with him.

“A new beginning, a new journey for me,” he said. “I will try to do my best for the team. I’m lucky to have my family with me.”

Journalists who cover Aberdeen posited that because of Atlanta United’s relationship with the club -- Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Five Stripes, owns a small portion of Aberdeen, and its chairman, Dave Cormack, has a residence in Georgia -- Hernandez was destined to join the club anyway. Both sides, Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra and Aberdeen ex-manager Dave McInnes, have said or been quoted as saying that never was the case.

Hernandez would say of his time at Aberdeen only that he was being professional, but that there were some things that were out of his control. One was COVID and the inability to see his family. Another may have been Aberdeen’s switch from playing four in the back to three.

Atlanta United announced the loan acquisition Feb. 18.

“Atlanta United, now that we have this relationship and they saw my situation,” he said. “If you look at my profile, I was playing for my national team. Both parts worked really well to have this for me.”

Atlanta United has played three scrimmages. In the one that could be watched, Hernandez showed his quality. His forcing a foul 20 yards from goal resulted in a free kick and goal by Ezequiel Barco in that training exercise against Charleston on March 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

He is competing against Brooks Lennon, who scored in that game and was one of Atlanta United’s better players during its disappointing 2020 season. But, because of the team’s compressed schedule this season, both likely will get to play.

“All my teammates go out there to show what we can do,” he said. “At the end of the day the manager has the decision. For my part, I will work hard and be ready for anything and for the opportunity. I consider myself a good up-and-down player, good crosser. I believe I’m strong enough to be one of best wingers in the league. We will see.”

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