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United's Bob: Name came from cartoon, but game is serious

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman (right) reacts after fouling Minnesota United FC midfielder Fernando Bob (center) during the second half Sept. 15 in Sandy, Utah. Kelvin Kuo / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS—With two Loons players each going by a single name — Ibson and Maximiano — Minnesota United and its supporters have become aware of the quirky culture of Brazilian names.

But here's a new twist: Defensive midfielder Fernando Paixao de Silva is known as Fernando Bob, with a surname he assumed based on the 1990s animated TV show "Bobby's World."

"(I) used to watch a lot of cartoons," Bob said, cracking a smile.

Does the Howie Mandel-created show about a boy named Bobby Generic and his enormous imagination fit in with Bob's personality?

"No," Bob said.

"We just like weird names," interjected Brazilian translator Geison Moura, a former United player.

The Loons have gotten familiar with Bob on the pitch since he signed as a free agent in August. The 30-year-old defensive midfielder has started the last three games, and coach Adrian Heath said his play has been "excellent" at times. Bob's long, chipped pass over Portland's defense became an assist on Romario Ibarra's first goal in the Loons' 3-2 win over the Timbers last weekend.

But Bob received a red card in the 89th minute for what he called an inadvertent elbow to the chin of Portland star Diego Valeri as both players were going to play a ball in the air.

United's front office appealed that decision to MLS, but the league upheld the call Wednesday, meaning Bob will serve a one-game suspension when the Loons (10-16-3) face New York City (15-8-8) on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

"(I) thought it was a bit excessive," Bob said of the card. "It was a normal play in the game."

Across the past three games, Bob has developed a partnership with Maximiano in the middle of the field, but Maximiano, too, will be out against NYCFC because of yellow-card accumulation. Their shared language has translated to better play on the field, Maximiano said.

"The game is very fast, so it's seconds that you need to think, and a lot of times you have to say, 'Bob, right, right, left, left,' and not having to think that in English helps," Maximiano said.

Bob, who is working back from a shoulder injury suffered before joining Minnesota, said MLS play is more physical than what he's used to from his career in Brazil.

"(I'm) adapting still, and the way to play and the way that the club works, the coach, the players," Bob said. "... With time, things will come naturally."

Maximiano, who's given name is Luiz Fernando Ferreira Maximiano, went with one name when he came to Minnesota in February, but that doesn't mean he and Ibson, whose full name is Ibson Barreto da Silva, give Bob a free pass on his moniker.

"(We) always mess with him; it's really funny," Maximiano said. "But ever since Brazil, he's had that name, so it almost becomes normal."

Affiliate talks

Minnesota United has entered advanced negotiations to have Madison Pro Soccer be its interim affiliate to help develop players in the lower-level United Soccer League in 2019, a source confirmed to the Pioneer Press.

The Loons would then seek their own developmental club in USL on a more-permanent status for 2020 and beyond, the source said.

Madison Pro Soccer is a startup that will play its first season in USL League One, which was formerly known as USL Division III.

The Loons have not had an affiliate agreement with a USL club during their first two seasons in MLS, instead using one-off agreements to send players to other USL clubs based on fit. That list includes sending rookies or young players to the Charlotte Independence, Las Vegas Lights, Tulsa Roughnecks and Colorado Springs Switchbacks this year.