New York City FC’s Jason Hernandez has strong ties to the metropolitan area, being born in Manhattan and raised in Englewood, New Jersey.
The defender has been active in his birthplace’s community, taking part in events at P.S. 24 in the Bronx and Steve Nash’s Showdown in Chinatown on Wednesday.
Hernandez, who has started all 16 games this season for NYCFC, offered amNewYork his thoughts on the Big Apple and soccer ahead of the club’s match on the road Saturday against Seattle Sounders FC.
What is your favorite spot in the city?
My favorite spot in the city is Central Park. Right up on the Upper East Side by the Met.
How do you like riding the subway?
I love it for its convenience. But it can get a little hot down there sometimes, like right about now. But for the most part, I enjoy the subway, especially the 6 line.
What is a typical off-day like for you in the city?
A day off for me in the city would be sleeping in a little bit, stepping out to a local cafe and then taking a bike ride in my neighborhood and maybe going through Central Park and laying out for a bit. I really enjoy the Park so I get out there a lot.
What does it mean to you to represent the city?
It means the world to me. I was born in New York City, I grew up around here, so playing in Yankee Stadium and representing the city is a dream come true for me.
What is your favorite city restaurant?
A tie between Stanton Social and Vandal.
What is your favorite off-the-pitch memory of the city?
My favorite off-the-pitch memory of the city this year is when I did a piece for MLS during the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
What is your favorite New York team other than New York City FC?
I’ve been a huge supporter of the Yankees my whole life, so I’d have to say the Yankees.
How did you first start playing soccer?
I first started when I changed schools in middle school. I went to a school that had a population predominantly of Columbian kids in my class, so to make friends I decided to play the game and then just stuck with it.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
While you’re taking a break, someone else is working, so be sure to stay on top of it.
What has been the most memorable moment of your soccer career?
The most memorable moment of my soccer career I think would be winning the Supporters’ Shield in San Jose in 2012.
If you could give advice to fellow soccer players, what would you say?
Enjoy every moment because tomorrow isn’t promised. We’re all just an injury away from getting a real job, so enjoy it while you can.
What are some of your non-soccer hobbies?
I’m a foodie, so I love going to restaurants. I’m also into movies. I watch a lot of movies.
Do you have any gameday rituals?
If it’s a home match, I like eating at the same restaurant with the same dish the night before and just saying a prayer before the match. Those are the two things I always do.
What music do you enjoy listening to on gamedays?
I’m very strong into hip-hop and rap music, so I listen to a lot of that stuff to get me in the right frame of mind.
What is something NYCFC fans should know about you that they do not already?
That’s a good question. They should know it is more than just a game for me and more than just a team for me. It’s very personal for me and I take it that way. It’s something that’s very close to my heart.