Take a look at Leo Fernandes’ starting position chart on an analytics website, and it’s quickly clear during his time at the Tampa Bay Rowdies he’s been arguably the most versatile player in the squad, a Swiss Army Knife capable of solving all manner of problems.

This season, given the role of playmaker and finisher in the attacking third, Fernandes has proven adept at unlocking opposing defenses.

The 30-year-old former member of the Cosmos was on Thursday named the USL Championship’s Player of the Month for June presented by Konami eFootball after leading the Rowdies to an undefeated month that saw him record five goals in five games – including goals in four consecutive outings to close the month, and two Goal of the Week winners – while recording 10 shots on target and eight chances created for the two-time defending Eastern Conference title winner.

For Fernandes, whose nine goals so far this season are already a single-season career high, the opportunity to play predominantly in the attacking third this campaign has been a major enjoyment.

“It’s been great playing my role for the team this year,” Fernandes said. “I’m having a lot of fun out there, just being closer to the goal and being able to create for the team, and just trying to impact the game in any way that I can and help these other great players we have up top. It’s been great and I’m having a lot of fun out there.”

Born in Brazil, Fernandes was raised in North Babylon, N.Y. and attended Stony Brook University.

Fernandes’ spirit and tenacity has been in some ways an embodiment for Tampa Bay’s resilience this season. After recording the third-highest points total in a USL Championship regular season last year, Tampa Bay had a difficult opening to the 2022 season. The club has since battled back to join the race for first place in the East. Key to that has been a league-high 14 points gained from losing positions, with the club’s 5-2 victory against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on June 25 – its first at Pittsburgh’s Highmark Stadium in club history – to close the month an illustration.

“Resiliency is huge,” said Fernandes. “I think we’ve had some difficulty in the past going down a goal and then trying to come back. I think this has been one of the real positives of this group, just to show everyone that even if we do go down a goal, we have what it takes to come back to tie the game and even win.”

Tampa Bay’s current nine-game undefeated streak has carried it back within three points of Eastern Conference leader Louisville City FC. It also includes victories against both LouCity and Memphis 901 FC, which currently sits second in the East. As the Rowdies take aim at a third consecutive Eastern Conference title, and their first USL Championship title, the race for position during the second half of the campaign is one Fernandes and his teammates are eager for.

“Battles like this are definitely exciting for us as players,” said Fernandes. “Like we always do, we take it one game at a time. If we handle our business on the field, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Fernandes received 42 percent of a weighted poll that included the USL Championship Technical Committee, a national panel of independent media representing every USL market and an online fan vote held at USLChampionship.com. San Diego Loyal SC’s Alejandro Guido finished second on 27 percent after recording three goals and three assists in five appearances for his hometown club, while the LA Galaxy II’s Preston Judd took third on 11 percent as he recorded five goals in four appearances, averaging a goal every 66.8 minutes as Los Dos moved into the Western Conference playoff positions.

USL Championship Player of the Month – June 2022

Nominee  Fan Vote   Weight   Media Vote   Weight   USL Vote   Weight   Overall Vote 
Leo Fernandes (TBR)  34%  17%  50%  12%  50%  13%  42%
Alejandro Guido (SD)  34%  17%  5%  1%  33%  8%  27%
Preston Judd (LA)  10%  5%  28%  7%  0%  0%  12%
Augustine Williams (CHS)  19%  10%  5%  1%  0%  0%  11%
Manuel Arteaga (IND)  2%  1%  12%  3%  17%  4%  8%