Fernandes was named to the All-America East first team his last three years at SBU. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)
Fernandes was named to the All-America East first team his last three years at SBU. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

​It’s only been a few months since January, when Leonardo Fernandes, a former Stony Brook University Men’s Soccer senior midfielder, was drafted onto the Major League Soccer (MLS) Supplemental Draft by the Philadelphia Union with the 62nd pick of the draft.

“He had performed so well last summer at Reading United against other guys that had gone earlier in the draft, like Deshorn Brown and Greg Cochrane, who went to LA Galaxy,” Brendan Burke, assistant coach for the Philadelphia Union, said.  “Leo was very much part of that group, so we kind of trusted the fact that he would fit in here.”

​Burke insisted that Fernandes did well at the preseason. He saw that Fernandes’ contribution can help the team achieve success.

​Fernandes’ soccer skills and abilities helped him stand out from other soccer players. “He’s a big kid and he’s got a really good left foot and is creative,” Burke said. “So he’s a little bit different than your average mainstream American college player.”

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​Fernandes was with his family, hoping to get drafted onto the MLS.

“I’ve been a soccer player all my life,” Fernandes said. “Getting drafted to the Philadelphia Union is a dream come true.”

Fernandes didn’t have any tendency on getting drafted to the MLS. “I was happy with my parents,” he said. “It was the greatest moment in my life.”

He started playing soccer at the age of five. He grew up watching his father play professionally in Brazil.

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​Fernandes became the second-ever player in the program to be drafted into the MLS. The transition from Stony Brook University Men’s Soccer to Philadelphia has helped him become a better soccer player, and suggested that playing at Stony Brook helped him with his speed and running techniques.

​“The transition was tough and the level was harder,” Fernandes said.

In 2012, Fernandes led Stony Brook with nine goals and seven assists for 25 points. He was able to capture the game-winning goal in five of Stony Brook’s 11 victories.

That same year, 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.

Since he left Stony Brook University, he’s been training and preparing himself. He insisted that he tries to be optimistic. And his first goal is for the preseason.

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​He carried all the skills he learned from the university’s soccer team to the Philadelphia Union.  His courage and compassion for soccer has helped him build more confidence.

​Fernandes is preparing for an opportunity as a pro soccer player. He indicated that practice and hard work bring success.

He spends his time training to get better. He tries to do more work than he has to. He also tries to overcome his weakness though training and preparation.

But being a rookie has been tough on him. He has been adjusting from the college game as a rookie. He has to keep up with equipment.

But that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his goals. “I wouldn’t change my place for anything,” Fernandes said.

​Philadelphia Union has also helped him become more technical and professional. “The players were faster and smarter,” he said. “It made me get stronger.”

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​Fernandes suggested that the players gave more than 100 percent on each of their training. His training helped him to get better and faster.

He has been given the opportunity to play with professionals every day, he said, describing his training experience.

Although Stony Brook University made Fernandes a better soccer player, Brazil made him more technical. “All players are technical in Brazil,” he said. “It gave me an advantage in the U.S.”

​Fernandes has a well-rounded career ahead of him. His endurance and courage will help him enhance his soccer career.

​“I have to be stronger and fitter,” Fernandes said. “I have to be a good soccer player as I can be.”

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