Fernandes was a three-time AE midfielder of the year. (Statesman File Photo)
Fernandes was a three-time AE midfielder of the year. (Statesman File Photo)

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Leonardo Fernandes and his family nervously watched the Major League Soccer (MLS) Supplemental Draft online with hopes of his name showing up, and it did.

Stony Brook’s senior midfielder from North Babylon, N.Y., was chosen by the Philadelphia Union in the fourth round, making him the second-ever player in the program to be drafted onto an MLS team. “I was extremely excited,” Fernandes said describing his initial reaction. “I couldn’t believe it.” He was so excited that he boarded the 7a.m. train from Penn Station to Philadelphia the next morning.

Training with Philadelphia Union is a lot different from training with Stony Brook, according to Fernandes. “The players are much faster and much smarter,” he said. “It’s their job, so they compete 100 percent at each training.”

Fernandes feels that he is doing well and is starting to adjust to the speed of the game.

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Fernandes, born in Brazil, started playing soccer when he was five-years-old. “It’s the only sport they play there,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true, I’ve always wanted to be drafted in the MLS.”

Fernandes’ father played professionally in Brazil. His family is very happy that he got picked, according to Fernandes.

Wearing the #10 jersey, Fernandes finished his Stony Brook career as men’s soccer’s most decorated student-athlete and the program’s all-time leader in points with 79.

His 31 goals make him third as well as his 17 assists.

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He ranks first in the program’s Division I history in each category.

Fernandes, three-time America East Midfielder of the Year and first-team All-America East recipient, has received many accolades throughout his Stony Brook career, such as America East Rookie of the Year in 2009, America East Championship Most Outstanding Player in 2011 and Big Apple Soccer Player of the Year in 2012.

Also in 2012, he was named Stony Brook men’s soccer’s first-ever All-American, with second-team honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and third-team honors from College Soccer News.

He was named first-team NSCAA All-Northeast Region for two consecutive years in 2011 and 2012, and third-team NSCAA All-Northeast Region in 2010.

As Fernandes embarks on a new journey, he reminds himself that “it’s the extra work that you put in that helps you get better and gives you the advantage over your opponent,” a piece of advice given to him by Stony Brook head coach Ryan Anatol.

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Fernandes has set two new goals for himself: earning a spot on Philadelphia Union’s upcoming season roster and having a long and successful career.

Fernandes was not the only America East player taken by Philadelphia, as he will be joined by Jake Keegan, who the Union took in the third round. In addition, the New York Red Bulls selected Boston University’s Michael Bustamante in the first round.

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