ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Tampa Bay Rowdies attacking midfielder Leo Fernandes was named the 2022 USL Championship Most Valuable Player on Thursday, capping a banner season for the six-year Rowdies veteran that saw him lead the league in combined goals and assists.
Fernandes is the first Rowdies player to win USL MVP since the club joined the league in 2017. Club legend Georgi Hristov was the last Rowdies player to take home MVP Honors as the 2013 NASL MVP.
The longest-tenured Rowdies player, Fernandes became the focal point of Tampa Bay’s attack in 2022. Fernandes’ 19 regular season goals more than tripled his previous career best of six goals during the 2021 season. His nine assists left him just one shy of his single-season best in 2019.
“It means a lot to win this award,” said Fernandes. “It’s really a great achievement for me, but it’s something that wouldn’t be possible without my family, my wife, my teammates, and obviously [Rowdies] Coach Neill [Collins]. It’s really been an unbelievable season, and I owe it all to them for how they’ve helped me get here.”
While leading the entire USL with 28 combined goals and assists, Fernandes also posted personal career highs in matches played (32), matches started (29), and minutes played (2,515). Fernandes also surpassed 150 matches played for the Green & Gold in all competitions, finishing the year with 155 total appearances for the Rowdies. He now ranks third in modern era appearances for the club, behind Sebastian Guenzatti (161) and Hristov (173).
“It’s such an honor to represent the Rowdies and it’s an honor every time I get to put that jersey on,” said Fernandes. “I’m so grateful to have been here as long as I have, and I definitely don’t take it for granted. Each time I step on the field wearing the Rowdies name on my jersey, I play like it’s my last time. It’s a great honor. I’m humbled and grateful to be a part of this club.”
Fernandes received 38 percent of the vote to earn the MVP award, while Memphis 901 FC midfielder Aaron Molloy took second place with 20 percent and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s Hadji Barry was third on nine percent. Eleven players overall received votes in balloting.
The 2022 USL Championship Awards were voted on by team technical staffs and executives and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL Championship market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2022 Championship regular season.
2022 USL Championship Awards
Goalkeeper of the Year: Jordan Farr, San Antonio FC
Defender of the Year: Mitchell Taintor, San Antonio FC
Coach of the Year: Ben Pirmann, Memphis 901 FC
Young Player of the Year: Michee Ngalina, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Most Valuable Player: Leo Fernandes, Tampa Bay Rowdies
USL Championship Most Valuable Player
2011: Yordany Alvarez, Orlando City SC
2012: Kevin Molino, Orlando City SC
2013: Jose Angulo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
2014: Kevin Molino, Orlando City SC
2015: Matt Fondy, Louisville City FC
2016: Sean Okoli, FC Cincinnati
2017: Dane Kelly, Reno 1868 FC
2018: Emmanuel Ledesma, FC Cincinnati
2019: Solomon Asante, Phoenix Rising FC
2020: Solomon Asante, Phoenix Rising FC
2021: Hadji Barry, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC