Paulista, Sarafim,
The tale of three Juninhos
December 20, 2012

Take a look at the attached photo. On the top left is Juninho. On the top right is Juninho. On the bottom is Juninho. One of them will play for Metro next season. The other two...

The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article, dated March 5, 1996:

Argentina and Brazil, two of the world's powers, qualified for the Atlanta Summer Olympics on Sunday. [...] Brazil eliminated Uruguay, 3-1, with the help of two goals from Juninho, who plays for Middlesborough in the English League.

Then, a couple of paragraphs below:

In the other two rounds of the [supplemental] draft, the MetroStars got two young Brazilians, Juninho and Tulio. Juninho is a 23-year-old midfielder, and Tulio is a 21-year-old forward.

Back in 1996, the mercurial Juninho was tearing up the Premier League with unheralded Middlesbrough, dancing circles around opponents. The same Juninho would play for Brazil in the Olympics, two Copa Americas, and the 2002 World Cup. That Juninho, born in 1973, full name Osvaldo Giroldo Junior, was also known as Juninho Paulista. He was NOT the Juninho that the MetroStars drafted.

Yet you can imagine the confusion that happened on the draft day in 1996. When Metro fans saw Juninho's name, many assumed that it was the wizard from Boro. The fact that he was somehow available to be taken in the second round of the supplemental draft, ten picks after top selection Nicola Caricola, was ignored. The fact that his team was listed as Barra da Tijuca, an ocean away from northern England, was missed as well.

The confusion was quickly cleared up; obviously, there are many Brazilians with the nickname Juninho -- it means "little Junior". The one Metro drafted was just some guy MLS signed from Brazil's lower divisions. He didn't even make it to opening day, as he and Tulio were quickly jettisoned.

For years, we had no idea who this Metro-for-a-moment Juninho was, until a player surfaced in the USL. His full name was Edivaldo Sarafim DaSilva; he was born in 1974. During his career with the Puerto Rico Islanders and the Rochester Rhinos in 2004-06, it came out that he was the one and same Juninho that Metro drafted. So that mystery was solved. (The mystery of Tulio, however, still lives on to this day.)

So, now, of course, we finally get our Juninho. Full name Antonio Augusto Ribeiro Reis Junior, also known as Juninho Pernambucano, born in 1975, star for Lyon and Vasco, played for Brazil in the 2006 World Cup... and in the 2001 Copa America, when he was teammates with Juninho. Juninho Paulista, that is.

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