On Wednesday, The Tampa Bay Rowdies have announced that they will be playing their matches for their first season at the New York Yankees spring training facility, Steinbrenner Field.
Rowdies’ owner Andrew Nestor stated that he was excited with being involved with the ‘creation process’ of the Rowdies. “It’s very exciting,” Nestor said, according to the Tampa Tribune. “It’s been a long year-and-a-half, restructuring, relaunching a league, building an entire organization from scratch, putting together not just and organization but a winning team that we feel will compete for a championship in our first year. To be able to announce that we’re going to play in such a great venue and really start to look forward is very exciting.”
The Rowdies also introduced three of the team’s new players to the soccer world.
Pascal Milien is from Auburndale, Florida (40 minutes east of Tampa) and was an All-American with the University of Tampa. While growing up in Florida, Milien is from Haiti and has one international cap with the country. At Auburndale High School, Milien scored 114 goals and had 40 assists. He was named the 2005 Florida Gatorade Soccer Player of the Year as well as the Lakeland Ledger’s 2005-2006 Player of the Year.
Here is a highlight film of his time with the University of Tampa in his senoir year:
In addition to the striker Milien, the team announced the addition of two towering defenders to the squad.
Six-foot-three Tampa native Joe Donoho will, no doubt, be a strong presence on the Tampa back line. Donoho played at Rutgers for two years before transferring to Bradley University, where he received Second Team All-Missouri Conference honors. In addition to being a noticable size player on the defense, he also has the ability to create offensive plays as well, providing an attacking free-kick punch for the Rowdies.
The other defender is Cuban-born Yendry Diaz. Diaz received international news when he decided to defect to the United States while Cuba was visiting during an Olympic Games selection match against the US in south Florida. Last year, he played for Real Maryland Monarchs, where he played in ten matches, scoring one goal.
And with Diaz standing 6’0″, it seems as is Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish is looking to create a stong, physical defense, which can also provide some free kick and scoring opportunities as well.
The addition to Diaz to the club should stir up a little bit the rivalry between the Tampa Rowdies and FC Miami even more.
Here is another story from France 24 about Diaz’s defection to the US.
With these players, and the addition of New Zealand international midfielder Jeremy Christie, former MLS first round pick Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe and Jamaican forward Dwight Barnett, the Tampa Bay Rowdies seem to be on a positive track, and are showing that they are taking this new endeavor quiet seriously.
“We’re a new organization, but we want to be competitive from the very first day,” Dalglish told the Tampa Tribune. “We’re coming out this year to win the championship. That’s out goal, we’re going to compete and win the championship. Is it a tough ask? Of course it is, but you’ve got to aim high, and that’s what we aim to do. We’ve got the players to do it, we’ve got the organization to do it, we’ve got the facility to do it.”