Luis Fernando and his wife, Maria. (Photo courtesy of the Figueiredo family)
By Michael Lewis
Luis Fernando, an original Rochester Lancer who recorded the team’s first competitive goal and who forged a reputation as a lethal goal-scorer in Western New York, has passed away.
Fernando died last Friday. He was 76.
A native of Brazil, Fernando, whose family name was Figueiredo (many Brazilian players go by their first name and middle names) emigrated to the United States in the sixties. He played for Dnipro and the Italian American Sport Club, helping both sides successful seasons while scoring countless goals. For example, he struck for a hat-trick in Dnipro’s 5-1 win over Buffalo Germania in a Northwester Cup match Jan. 11, 1966.
Fernando, who mostly played inside left, was known by many in the Rochester soccer community as “Canhoto,” which means Lefty in Portuguese, because he usually played with his highly skilled left foot.
He helped the IASC reach the U.S. Amateur Cup finals of the 1966 competition before the squad fell to the Chicago Kickers in the title match in the Windy City, 5-2.
On May 28, 1967, a 25-year-old Fernando played a key role in the ISAC’s comeback from a 2-0 deficit in what turned out to be a 4-2 victory over the equalizer for the ISAC in a 4-2 victory over the Ukrainian-American Sport Club in the semifinals of the Northwestern Cup game at Cobbs Hill Park.
Two days later, Fernando came off the bench in the Lancers’ very first game, a 4-2 loss to Concordia Sport Club of Germany at then Aquinas Stadium. Fernando, who played inside left, did not score in the match, but placed a shot on goal that the goalkeeper saved in the 37th minute.
In the team’s second exhibition match that year, Fernando stunned against Chelsea of England by drilling a hard shot into the left corner of the net only 55 seconds into the game in a 6-1 defeat at the same venue.
Fernando has the unique distinction of scoring the Lancers’ first goal in a competitive match in the team’s inaugural match in the American Soccer League at Aquinas Aug. 27, heading home a Tommy McGlennon feed in the 20th minute in a 4-2 home defeat to the Boston Tigers. Boston head coach Sal Atria praised Fernando’s performance in the midfield to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
An interesting footnote to the game: Tigers forward Carlos Metidieri, a fellow Brazilian who would join the Lancers and lead the team to the 1970 North American Soccer League title, scored the first goal of the match as the visitors grabbed a 2-0 lead.
Fernando’s promising career with Lancers was short-lived due to a left leg injury suffered early in the season. He reportedly torn ligaments in his left leg in September before undergoing an operation. He played with the Lancers through the 1968 season.
Also known as Luis Fernando Figueiredo, the former soccer player’s wife of 47 years, Maria, died exactly a year ago today, Oct. 2, 2017 in Highwood, Ill. She was 69.