Since first being paired together three games ago, Minnesota United midfielders Fernando Bob and Maximiano have quickly formed a strong partnership in central midfield. For two players who are looking to impress the team’s brass ahead of the offseason, it has been a promising start and one that has been fueled by a fast-developing understanding between the two Brazilians.
Bob and Maximiano played vital roles in the first half that boosted MNUFC to its win over Portland last Saturday. Head Coach Adrian Heath remarked after the game that the two “bossed” the midfield and complimented their ability to spring the attack — best exemplified by the superb long ball Bob put in to midfielder Darwin Quintero that set up the Loons’ first goal.
“Bob has been excellent,” Heath said. “When you consider he has not played in two or three months, for him to come in and contribute like he has bodes well for us moving forward.”
“When you look at the pair of them, they have had a stop-start and certainly Maxi has since he has been with us,” he added. “To get him some minutes and have a look at him, he is here on loan until the end of the season and we have to make a decision on him. I think they have done well enough to keep their place and move on.”
Both players are fighting for their futures in Minnesota. The contract Bob signed in August only runs until the end of the season and the team must make a decision on Maximiano after his yearlong loan from Brazil’s Fluminense FC ends. Though they will both be suspended this Saturday against NYCFC, the duo’s first extended action of the season has yielded positive early returns and has impressed both teammates and coaches.
Other Loons have lauded Bob and Maximiano’s ability to read the game in midfield, keep tight at the back and possess the ball when they have it, with midfielder Rasmus Schuller calling it “very pleasant” to play with them. The pair of Fluminense youth products have helped each other adapt to the more physical pace of play in MLS and quickly developed a mutual on-field understanding around their shared heritage and language.
“There is a closer communication because of the language,” Maximiano said through a translator. “That is very important in a game, when you understand each other. I think it is a good partnership. The game is very fast, so you only have seconds to think. A lot of times you have to say ‘Bob, right’ or ‘left.’ Not having to think that in English helps.”
Neither Bob nor Maximiano speak English, so having a community of fellow brasileiros at MNUFC — which also includes midfielder Ibson — has helped the adjustment away from the field and develop the chemistry on it, especially for Bob coming in to the team late in the season and having to hit the ground running in the competition for 2019 roster spots.
“To adapt is very important because I do not speak English yet,” Bob said via translator. “This is a new place and a new country, so it is very important for me to have people here who can help me. I am adapting still to the style of play, to how the club works, the coach and the players. Everything is very new for me.
“It is a big partnership and a very important partnership,” he added. “To know the way (Maximiano) plays, and know how Ibson plays, plays a big role in the partnership. Playing with them is very important to me. The way that Maximiano and Ibson play is a Brazilian way to play, which has helped me.”