Atlanta United has signed Brazilian midfielder Luiz Fernando to a Major League Soccer contract, the club announced Wednesday. Fernando previously was signed to a deal with the club’s USL Championship affiliate, Atlanta United 2.
Fernando, listed at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, signed with Atlanta United 2 on Nov. 19, 2018, after three seasons playing with the Richmond Kickers. He has appeared in 21 games for the 2s — 16 starts — notching one goal and two assists. Fernando is second on the team in chances created this season. The 22-year-old native of São Paulo played in the Corinthians youth system before making his way to Richmond.
“When we brought Luiz in, we saw someone who fit our player profile and hoped that in our system, he could develop into a first-team player,” vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a prepared statement. “Over the last year, he’s put in that work and has earned an MLS contract. He is a great example of the type of professional we strive to have at this club, as he took full advantage of his opportunity with ATLUTD2 and has shown the work ethic to continuously improve all facets of his game.”
Fernando trained with Atlanta’s first team Wednesday and lined up as a left-side attacking player during an 11-v-11 session. He was with the team for its Campeones Cup win over Club América at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last week. Manager Frank de Boer said it was an opportunity to show the player how his team prepares.
“I had a discussion two months ago with Carlos,” de Boer said Friday. “How can [we] help those guys if we think this is a promising player and we think maybe in the future we’re going to sign him, we need him for the first team? Then he’s already a little bit more prepared. Of course, Luiz is one of them, [recent homegrown signing] George Campbell is one of them.”
Fernando’s first opportunity to make a gameday 18-man roster comes Friday, when Atlanta travels to meet Orlando City. The Five Stripes and Lions will kick off around 8 p.m.