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Jason Hernandez signs with Toronto FC

The New York native made 52 starts for NYCFC in 2015 and ‘16.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, a warrior must travel North of the Wall. This week, former New York City FC center back Jason Hernandez signed with defending Eastern Conference champions Toronto FC.

The 33 year old Manhattan-born, Seton Hall-educated Hernandez joins as a free agent. An inaugural member of NYCFC, he made 57 total appearances in the team’s first two years. In 2016, the player made his full debut with the Puerto Rico national team.

In Toronto, Hernandez rejoins two former defensive teammates from his days with the San Jose Earthquakes, Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour.

“He's a competitor, he's a winner; we're definitely lucky to have him,” Beitashour said Tuesday. “He was with me and Justin in our four years in San Jose. He was really one of the leaders on that team and a mentor to me and Justin; he took us under his wing and we learned a lot from him.”

“I’m definitely excited that he’s here.”

“We had some pretty successful years in getting to the Conference Finals and winning the Supporters’ Shield [in 2012], so we’ve had a lot of success and a good chemistry,” Hernandez said of the San Jose partnership with Beitashour and Morrow.

Jason Hernandez is a warrior, and while he may lack the ability to close out on attackers with due quickness, he provides a sturdy presence and the ferocity to match (read: nine yellow cards with NYCFC in 2015). It remains to be seen how he’ll be able to fit in with gaffer Greg Vanney’s back three, but the player likely won’t be relied upon in too many high-leverage situations given the bodies the Reds already have at the back, including dozen-year MLS vet Drew Moor.

But even if Hernandez is there simply to provide a strong voice in the locker room and a steady hand on the training ground, the move makes sense for a team that came so terribly close — like, “2013 Spurs in Game 6” close — to winning last year’s MLS Cup.

“He knows how to win in this league,” Vanney said. “He’ll do a real job for us.”