Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Leo Fernandes

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Coping with the late scratch of Brian Carroll, the Union team didn’t put in quite the level of performance of last week’s game in Portland. The team started slowly and, after going in front, allowed New England back into things more than most fans would have liked.

That said, this week was a win, and none on the team played poorly. And once again, the difference-makers were in midfield. While Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira each had a change in role due to Carroll’s absence, the man with the most to deal with was Carroll’s replacement: Leo Fernandes. Fernandes didn’t find out about his starting position until minutes before warm-ups, and it took him a while to get adjusted to things, but once he did, he displayed a poise, physicality, and creativity that drove the Union forward. It was his smart run and centering pass that laid the ball on a platter for Sebastien Le Toux to finish, and he more than held his own against the New England midfield.

Last season, Fernandes played more minutes than most fans expected he would—and more than many thought that he should. He often made the common rookie mistake of failing to play within himself, trying the same moves that had been successful against his peers, but that failed to come off against the seasoned pros he found himself up against. But that experience did him well, and he came into preseason stronger, and played smarter.

In fact, Amobi Okugo said of Fernandes, “To be honest, I think he was actually one of our best players, if not our best player, during the preseason.” Maurice Edu said, “It’s going to be a good season for him.”

Against New England, thrust into the starting lineup with little warning, and playing at the attacking tip of a midfield still learning each others’ tendencies, Fernandes showed that he has the skills and intelligence to be more than spot-duty contributor: he can be a difference-maker.

That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week.

Honorable mention: Vincent Nogueira. The Frenchman continues to impress with his passing and workrate. Asked to step into Edu’s box-to-box role in the Union midfield, Nogueira didn’t miss a beat, pressuring New England players when they had the ball, recovering the ball, retaining possession in tight spaces, then getting his head up to try and jump-start the offense. He’s a gem.

11 Comments

  1. Southside Johnny says:

    Totally agree. So nice to see him extend those promising minutes he showed last year.

  2. i got ray gaddis this week(other than that opening wiff). leo had a good 1st half but the 2nd was lacking. nogrueira i though was ok.

    • I agree but Fernandes should never have finished this match. He should’ve been subbed off around the 65th minute. It was clear he was gassed, and if Hackworth wants to play up-tempo and keep pressure on the whole match, he needs to make a move. Cruz would’ve been effective late in the match with the Revs defense as tired as they were, and Fernandes would’ve left the match as the best player on the pitch. Otherwise, a masterful performance from Leo.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Good choice. Another possible honorable mention for me would be MacMath. The point blank save was awesome. I thought he had great command of the box. And, along with the shutout, he still hasn’t allowed a goal in the first 90 minutes of a game.

  4. Agree with Fernandes. Nogueira is a good runner-up. I also thought LeToux, even without the goal was deserving. His possession, passing and movement were very good and if only he and Hoppenot we’re more in sync could have easily had two more Union goals. Only quibble with him we’re his corners.

    On a related note I think there needs to be some clear direction from the sideline at the end of tight games like that whether the expectation is to kill the clock or go for more. It seems Hoppenot wasn’t necessarily in on the whole kill the clock game plan that everyone else seemed to be on. Even Danny Cruz tried (unsuccessfully) to burn some clock in the corner, and he’ll generally attack from anywhere. I think that’s why Hop and LeToux were not in sync. LeToux appeared to want to slow up the play while Hoppenot wanted to force the play

    • LeToux played well for his standards, bug he wasn’t in sync w/ much of anyone on the final pass.
      In terms of killing the game: shielding the ball in the corner w/ 5 mins left us for HS soccer. The ball should have been knocked around… but that’s Cruz, and the old way of thinking.

  5. I’m really impressed by Nogueira, and thought he was the best player on the field Saturday. He’s so calm and confident on the ball, and I can’t recall an instance where he turned it over or made an errant pass. He pops up all over the field to collect the ball – a great mix of technique and high work rate (our French contingent sure like to run). That said, Fernandes did bring a lot to the table as well.

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    Gaddis deserved at least the honorable mention.

  7. I’m a big Leo supporter, but he didn’t deserve this.
    His complete lack of pressure in the 2nd half almost ruined the day.
    I put that more on Hack, but still.
    I’d probably say Nogueira or Gaddis gets it b/c it was a loss without them. Nogs will be our MVP if he keeps it up.
    Good for Leo though.

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