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Rowdies sign midfielder Leo Fernandes as roster rounds into shape

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The roster of the Tampa Bay Rowdies continues to take shape.

On Wednesday, the team added midfielder Leo Fernandes, 25. Fernades spent last season with the Philadelphia Union of the MLS, but has been on load several times, including stays with the New York Cosmos.

While with the Cosmos that season, Fernandes was selected as the North American Soccer League’s Young Player of the Year. That season, he played in 28 matches for the Cosmos, scoring eight goals and tallying three assists while helping New York to the NASL Championship.

“Leo is a player that we’ve been watching for a while because he was so impressive for the Cosmos in 2015,” Rowdies’ coach Stuart Campbell said. “We’re excited to see what he can do for the Rowdies given his experience. He’s a quick player that gives us width and he can pop up and score a few goals, too, which is always nice.”

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, but raised in New York, Fernandes played his college career at Stony Brook University from 2009 to 2012, where he earned the title of the Seawolves’ all-time leading points scorer.

The Union selected Fernandes 62nd overall in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft and he split his time between the Union and the USL’s Harrisburg City Islanders that season.

Fernandes made his mark on Philadelphia’s first team in 2014, scoring twice in 13 appearances, but again spent part of the season on loan with the Islanders.

After his impressive 2015 showing with the Cosmos, Fernandes rejoined Philadelphia for 2016, splitting his time between the first team in MLS and the Union’s USL team, the Bethlehem Steel. Fernandes made 12 appearances for the Union last year and 14 (all starts) for the Steel. He scored one goal for Bethlehem.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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