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NASL names Mendes Offensive Player of the Week

Brazilian forward has tallied three goals in first two professional starts

ATLANTA — Atlanta Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes has been named North American Soccer League Offensive Player of the Week, the league announced Monday.

The Brazilian forward is coming off a two-goal performance in the Silverbacks’ 4-2 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Mendes now has three goals in just two starts since joining the club on July 13.

“It feels great to be honored by the league because I’ve been working extremely hard each and every day,” Mendes said. “My teammates did a great job of putting me in a position to have success the other night, and I think that this award is just motivation for me to keep working hard and improving my game.”

Along with his twin brother, Paulo, Mendes, 22, joined the Silverbacks from the Rhode Island Reds of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The brothers have started the past two games and have accounted for four of the Silverbacks’ seven goals. Mendes’ first goal against the Strikers on Saturday night came off a cross from his brother, Paulo.

Mendes has injected pace and creativity into the Silverbacks lineup, qualities that caught the eye of interim head coach Eric Wynalda earlier this year. Pedro and Paulo spent time with Wynalda at Cal FC, an amateur club that dispatched a pair of professional teams to make it all the way to the fourth round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“As a coach, it’s always good to see a player rewarded for all of their hard work,” said Silverbacks assistant coach Brian Haynes. “Pedro has been putting forth a tremendous amount of effort, so to see him reap the benefits of his hard work with a few great goals and a win is fantastic. I can only hope that this will motivate him even more to keep doing what he’s been doing.”

Mendes is the fourth Silverbacks player to be named NASL Player of the Week this season, following forward Reinaldo Navia, midfielder Ciaran O’Brien, and goalkeeper Daniel Illyes, who have each picked up the honors once.