The Tampa Bay Rowdies' Leo Fernandes - who last year won the USL Championship's Most Valuable Player award - will miss the 2023 season after suffering a ruptured Achilles' tendon. | Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reigning USL Championship Most Valuable Player Leo Fernandes will miss the entire 2023 USL Championship season after suffering a ruptured left Achilles tendon during a recent preseason match, the Tampa Bay Rowdies announced on Friday.
The attacking playmaker underwent successful surgery to repair the ruptured Achilles earlier this week.
The longest-tenured player on Tampa Bay’s roster, Fernandes capped a career season in 2022 that saw him tally 19 goals and nine assists to earn the MVP award. A member of the Green and Gold since 2017, Fernandes ranks third at the club in modern-era appearances with 155 appearances across all competitions.
“This is a real unfortunate side of professional sports, to lose players to serious injury,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “No one could have foreseen the situation that happened with Leo. We’ll miss him on and off the field without a doubt. He’s been such a talisman at the club, last year in particular, but really all the years I’ve been here as a player and a coach.
“It’s always an opportunity for someone else to step up. We’ve always been about the team. Leo epitomized that as a player, and I think he’ll expect the guys to come together and use this to make us stronger.”
The Rowdies will open their new season on Saturday, March 11 as they welcome Indy Eleven to Al Lang Stadium, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.