Talented Uruguayan makes his mark in MLS debut

Fernandez no longer flying under radar after opening-day golazo

VANCOUVER, BCSebastián Fernández wasn't the biggest name Vancouver Whitecaps FC acquired this offseason, but even casual fans of the team know about him now after his screeching goal on opening day.

Brought in on loan from Uruguayan side Boston River with an option to buy, the right winger scored perhaps the best of Vancouver's goals in a 4-1 win last Saturday over New York Red Bulls at BC Place, pelting a shot into the top right corner of Luis Robles' goal to bring the score to 2-0, picking up Budweiser Man of the Match honours in the process.

On Friday that strike was named MLS Goal of the Week - nominated alongside Pedro Morales' goal from the same game. And now the technically gifted 24-year-old is hoping to take the momentum from his first start to this weekend's match against Chivas USA in Los Angeles.

“I was happy that it was a great goal, but most important is that the team won,” Fernández told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday through a translator. “It really doesn't mean anything if we don't win this weekend too. I'm happy with the goal, of course, but most important is the team.”

The road is a constant challenge for many teams in MLS, and it's no different for the 'Caps, who were 4W-9L-4D in 2013 away from BC Place, but Fernández is relishing the opportunity to get off to a good start at StubHub Center on Sunday (4 p.m. PT; TV: CTV2 BC, RADIO: TEAM 1410, teamradio.ca).

“I'm used to it,” Fernández said of road trips. “The last year-and-a-half, I've played in Peru, and there's a lot of travel involved there as well, so I'm quite used to that.”

Still, it's possible Fernández could be restricted in his minutes due to injury this weekend. His left foot was stomped during the Rose City Invitational preseason tournament in Portland, and the 'Caps have been managing the ailment – Fernández was restricted to solo fitness work during Thursday's session.

“I hope so,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters when asked about Fernández’s availability for the weekend. “He told me he was available today, so yes, I hope so. He didn't train today because he's got a problem with his toe, but he should be fine.”

On the injury front, Johnny Leverón is a more serious doubt for the weekend. The center back, who made the substitutes' bench on opening day, suffered a head knock during Monday's practice and is undergoing the MLS concussion protocol.

Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.