Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Leo Fernandes

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a player hits a rich vein of form, and turns in the top performance for multiple weeks in a row. Think early-2013 Jack McInerney.

This season’s Jack is turning out to be another young player, Leo Fernandes.

Few Union-watchers had Fernandes high on their preseason lists of breakout performers, but on Saturday, after the Union had allowed Columbus a two-goal lead through mostly preventable errors, he came on as a second-half substitute and led a spirited fightback. Leo scored the lone Union goal, and by the end of the game, the biggest surprise was that he didn’t get another.

With Chaco Maidana off-key, the Union had lacked the fluency, pace, and incision required to break down Columbus’s defense. Fernandes provided all three of those missing characteristics, and keyed the Union’s resurgence. While he will surely regret some missed chances to draw the game level, Fernandes was the pivot around which the Union offense turned, and he is making a strong case for increased playing time.

The key, of course, with all young players, is how they handle increased playing time and the expectations that come with it. But that’s for the future. As of now, all that’s left to say is that Leo Fernandes is taking his chances as they come, and making the Union better.

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

Honorable mention: Aaron Wheeler: The big forward-turned-center-back got the start on Saturday, with Austin Berry not yet recovered from his tight hamstring, and put in a fine performance. With each passing minute of game-time at CB, Wheeler is looking less and less like a converted forward and more like simply a good center back. Even with teams focusing their attack around breaking him down, Wheeler’s composure and physicality have shown targeting him to be a poor strategy. Add to that his versatility as an attacking option late in games, as on Saturday, and Wheeler looks like an MLS contributor for a long time to come.

9 Comments

  1. I remember thinking Fernandez was going to have a good season after his strong play during one of the preseason games; I can’t remember if it was against NY or Toronto

  2. Sean Doyle says:

    Nice to see the Reading United alums performing well for the Union.

  3. I’m just gonna say… I took a lot of flack last year for saying that I thought Leo would be very good and defending his use of a stepover. Maybe I was wrong then, but I’m glad others have finally jumped on board.
    .
    Now, if only Keon would make good on my defense of him…[not holding breath]

  4. I was trying to convince myself that I knew Leo was going to be awesome, and couldn’t, but I did see that he was more technical, and possession oriented.

    Somewhere it needs to be said that with this new hopped up center mid engine, the whole team looks better. I can’t believe the performances of Fabinho, I thought that guy was a joke after last season, now I think he contributes to the offense like Jordi Alba (okay that’s a lil far) and it’s all because of Nog and Edu’s addition.

    • good point. I was just thinking the same thing about Ray’s passing improvement. Some credit has to go to having good receivers of the ball as well. This is the conundrum of soccer – it’s a fluid team sport that makes rating individuals so difficult.

    • In fairness to Fabinho, he did come in pretty late in last season. If marquee signings can struggle when brought in mid-season, surely modest ones can do the same.

    • Yes, the midfield is making a lot of the team look better. But I must say I thought Fabinho came in for unfair criticism last year. I think the guy is pretty good at playing his game (man-to-man D, zipping up the wing, and crossing). But Nogueira and Edu are making him look way better.

      Leo is probably benefitting from them too, but keep in mind that the kid has one goal and one assist this year, in both of which cases he combined with… Le Toux.

      Also, ya know who DOESN’T look better with our revamped midfield?? Jack Mac. This is a very enigmatic sport sometimes.

  5. Remember ppl he is Brazilian and given the chance he will most def shine. Talking bout Leo u all

  6. I can’t wait to c Pedro on the field and of course Sheanondinho. Lol. Bet you didn’t know he has Brazilian blood in him.

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