PLAYER OF THE MONTH | Strikers Forward Stefano Pinho

The young Brazilian scored six goals in five August matches
NASL Staff | Sep 4, 2015

Similar to the run that ended with the club reaching The Championship Final in 2014, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers are starting to put together a late-season charge. At the forefront of the Strikers’ Fall Season transformation is forward Stefano Pinho, who was named NASL Player of the Month for August.

The 24-year-old Brazilian has scored six goals in his last three games, including a hat trick in a 7-1 victory over Indy Eleven in late August. Pinho’s play has been the primary catalyst in Fort Lauderdale’s active four-game unbeaten run, which has the club shooting up the standings. In fact, if the season ended today, the Strikers would hold the fourth and final seed in The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament.

“I’m very happy to be named NASL Player of the Month, and although I didn’t expect this recognition, I’m honored to have been chosen,” Pinho said. “Most importantly, the team has had a good run of results to go along with my goalscoring streak, which I hope continues right through the playoffs.”

Before Pinho caught fire in August, the Strikers actually started the month slowly. The club took just one point from two matches against the Cosmos, and Pinho was absent from the score sheet. On August 15, Pinho scored in a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies, but he was just getting started and so were the Strikers.

The Minas Gerais, Brazil, native struck twice in a massive 2-0 road win over FC Edmonton on August 23, and followed up that performance with three goals and an assist in Fort Lauderdale’s 7-1 trouncing of Indy six days later. The goalscoring spree now has Pinho atop the league’s Golden Boot race with 12 – two more than San Antonio’s Omar Cummings.

“I fully agree with the choice, but of course anybody who is the player’s coach would say that,” Strikers head coach Günter Kronsteiner said. “Besides the fact that I am his coach, I really have to admit that Stefano is truly an outstanding player. He proves this not only by scoring goals but also through his work ethic.”

Pinho joined the Strikers ahead of the NASL Spring Season, signing on a season-long loan agreement from Brazilian powerhouse Fluminense. His stint with the Strikers has been very successful thus far, as the young forward has produced 12 goals in 18 appearances (16 starts). Pinho scored at a similar rate last year when he scored 11 goals in 20 appearances on a loan stint with Finnish side MYPA. 

“When you look at him in practice you know exactly why he is where he is now because he works extremely hard,” Kronsteiner said. “He is a role model for a lot of players in this way, and I think this honor is more than deserved.”

Pinho and the Strikers, who currently sit in fourth place in the Combined Standings and fifth in the Fall Season Standings, will enjoy a week off before heading on the road to face league-leading Ottawa Fury FC on September 12 at TD Place.

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