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Tampa Bay Rowdies

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Title: Tampa Bay Rowdies  
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Subject: 2013 North American Soccer League season, North American Soccer League, 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Ryan Thompson (footballer)
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Tampa Bay Rowdies

Tampa Bay Rowdies
Rowdies' two star crest
Full name Tampa Bay Rowdies
Nickname(s) Rowdies
Founded 2008
Stadium Al Lang Stadium
St. Petersburg, Florida
Ground Capacity 7,500
Owners Bill Edwards (Majority)
Andrew Nestor (Minority)
David Laxer (Minority)[1]
Head Coach Stuart Campbell
League North American Soccer League
2015 (NASL) Spring: 2nd
Fall: 8th
Overall: 5th
Playoffs: DNQ
Website Club home page
Tampa Bay taking the field in St. Louis, 2010.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies are an American professional soccer team based in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida, United States. The club was founded in 2008 and first took the pitch in 2010. The Rowdies are a member of the North American Soccer League (NASL), the second tier of the American soccer pyramid, and play their home games at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Their manager is Stuart Campbell.

When plans for a new professional soccer team in the area were announced in 2008, the club planned to be called the "Tampa Bay Rowdies", the same name used from 1975 to 1993 by Tampa's franchise in the old North American Soccer League. Before taking the pitch, however, licensing issues forced the club to officially call itself FC Tampa Bay until December 2011, when it gained full rights to the Rowdies name.[2] The current club uses the same green and yellow color scheme and the iconic hoops of the original team, and did so even when they could not yet use the Rowdies name.[3]

The Rowdies captured the NASL championship in 2012 with a win in the Soccer Bowl. They have a long-standing rivalry with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, with whom they have contested the Florida Derby since 1977.


The original Tampa Bay Rowdies were an expansion franchise in the original North American Soccer League and played for 10 seasons in Tampa Stadium starting in 1975. The Rowdies were an immediate and consistent success, winning Soccer Bowl 1975 in their inaugural season, reaching the league final on two additional occasions, and regularly earning playoff berths. They showcased international stars such as midfield captain Rodney Marsh (England), league-leading goal scorers Derek Smethurst (South Africa) and Oscar Fabbiani (Argentina), assist leader Steve Wegerle (South Africa), and all-star defenders Arsene Auguste (Haiti) and "Iron" Mike Connell (South Africa). Head coaches included well-known managers Eddie Firmani, John Boyle, and Gordon Jago. The Rowdies enjoyed broad popular support from their "Fannies" until the NASL folded in 1984, after which the team played in the AISA, ASL and the APSL before folding in 1993.

Club history

On June 18, 2008, local businessmen David Laxer, Andrew Nestor and Hinds Howard announced plans to start a new soccer club which would revive the Rowdies name (as "FC Tampa Bay Rowdies") and start play in 2010 as an expansion team in the USL First Division, the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.[4] However, in November 2009 FC Tampa Bay announced their intent to instead become the co-founders of a new North American Soccer League, which would begin play in 2010.[5] These plans were subsequently superseded by the USSF Division 2 deal, which created a compromise one-season only league comprising teams from both the USL and the new NASL.

Name changes

In January 2010, the club became known as "FC Tampa Bay" due to a legal dispute with sports apparel company Classic Ink over the merchandising rights to the Tampa Bay Rowdies name and related trademarks.[6] The name was still used informally by the club until October 2010, when the team announced that it would not use the "Rowdies" nickname at all until the ongoing rights issue was resolved.[7][8]

On December 15, 2011, after two seasons of play, the club announced that it had finally reached a licensing agreement to use the "Rowdies" name and classic logos, allowing it to change its name back to "Tampa Bay Rowdies" before the 2012 season.[2][3]

2010 season

The team played its first official game on April 16, 2010, a 1–0 victory over Austin Aztex FC. The club started their inaugural season with a 5–1–3 record, but then won only 2 of its last 21 games and failed to make the playoffs with a final record of 7–12–11, leading to dismissal of manager Paul Dalglish.[9] They did, however, capture the 2010 Ponce De Leon Cup.

2011 season

For the 2011 season, FC Tampa Bay transitioned to the new North American Soccer League, a second division league, and also changed their home pitch, as they moved across Tampa Bay to Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. Former original Rowdie Ricky Hill was named the club's manager in January 2011.

After winning only 2 of their first 10 matches, the club rebounded to finish 3rd in the league table and qualified for the NASL playoffs. A highlight was a 1-0 mid-season friendly win over the Bolton Wanderers of the English Premier League at Al Lang Stadium.

2012 season

The 2012 season marked the return of the Rowdies name, as the club was finally able to secure full rights to use the moniker. It was also the most successful season in modern Rowdies history, as the club finished second in the league table and became NASL champions with a victory in Soccer Bowl 2012.

Tampa Bay amassed 45 points in 28 matches during the regular season under returning manager Ricky Hill, tallying 12 wins, nine draws. and seven losses. The Rowdies earned a bye to the semifinals of the 2012 NASL Playoffs, where they beat the Carolina RailHawks by a 5-4 aggregate in the two-leg series. In the championship round against Minnesota Stars FC, the Rowdies fell behind 0-2 after the first leg but were able to tie the aggregate with a 3-1 win in the second leg back at Al Lang Stadium. Extra time ended scoreless, so the match was decided with a penalty shoot-out, which Tampa Bay won 3–2 to secure the league championship.[10] Hill was named the NASL Coach of the Year.

2013 season

The defending champions got off to a slow start in two pre-league tournaments, as they went winless in their first six contests against MLS and USL Pro clubs. The Rowdies improved enough in league play to finish 4th in the NASL spring table with a record of 5 wins, 3 draws, and 4 losses. The highlight of the early season was a run to the 4th round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which included a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders of MLS.

The Rowdies went 5-4-4 during the fall portion of the schedule, good for 3rd place. The club earned 38 points over the entire campaign, second most in the league. However, because of the NASL's new Golden Ball Award winner (MVP).

2014 season

The Rowdies struggled in 2014, coming in 7th place in the NASL's spring season and 8th in the fall while allowing the most goals (50) in the league overall. The club rose to 3rd in the table midway through the fall campaign but tailed off, going winless over their last 10 matches. Manager Ricky Hill was dismissed after the season.

2015 season

The Tampa Bay Rowdies' new manager for 2015 was Thomas Rongen, who had coached the MLS's Tampa Bay Mutiny during their inaugural season in 1996. In March 2015, the Rowdies traveled to Portugal to play several preseason friendlies against clubs in the Portuguese second and third division. It was the first time that the current club had undertaken an international tour.[12]

Club venues

Al Lang Stadium

Newly renovated Al Lang Stadium

The Rowdies' home pitch since 2011 has been Al Lang Stadium, a 7,500 seat former baseball stadium located on the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg, Florida. The seating arrangement utilizes the baseball grandstand along with additional bleachers at field level along the sidelines.

Stadium management

Although the Rowdies have been the only regular tenant of Al Lang Stadium since 2011, it was regularly used for exhibition and amateur baseball during the spring, necessitating that the playing surface be converted for soccer use by removing the pitcher's mound and replacing the infield dirt with grass.[2][13]

After becoming majority owner of the club in 2013, St. Petersburg businessman Bill Edwards expressed displeasure with the condition of the playing pitch and the aging facilities at Al Lang Stadium.[2] Months of rebuffed complaints about poor turf, leaky pipes, broken seats, and other issues[14] culminated in a July 2014 lawsuit filed by the Rowdies against the St. Petersburg Baseball Commission claiming that the commission was not properly maintaining the "dilapidated" facility.[15] The dispute was resolved in October 2014 when Edwards and the city of St. Petersburg brokered a deal that gave Edwards' Big 3 Entertainment company sole management control of Al Lang Stadium. As part of the arrangement, the facility would no longer be used for spring baseball, and Edwards agreed to complete $1.5 million in renovations as he sought to make Al Lang more soccer friendly.[16]

Former stadiums

George M. Steinbrenner Field

When the club was founded in 2008, its owners announced plans to build a 5000-seat soccer-specific stadium in northwest Tampa along the Veterans Expressway. These plans were shelved in early 2009 when residents living near the chosen site voiced concerns to the Hillsborough County Commission about potential noise and parking issues.[17]

After exploring other possible stadium sites around the Tampa Bay area, FC Tampa Bay decided to play its 2010 inaugural season at West Tampa. The club shared the facility with the Tampa Yankees, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the New York Yankees,[18] which presented some difficulties. Since the pitcher's mound and the infield dirt could not be removed, the soccer field was laid out across the outfield from the right field foul line to left centerfield, creating a pitch much smaller than most professional soccer fields, and a large portion of one end had a clay playing surface.[19] Scheduling was also an issue during the summer when the Tampa Yankees play several games every week, and the baseball club did not allow the soccer club to play on a wet field due to fears that the turf would be damaged.[20]

Future plans

In 2013, the city of St. Petersburg began the process of creating a master plan for the waterfront area that includes Al Lang Stadium. Some of the proposals suggest replacing the entire stadium and surrounding parking areas with a soccer park complex centered by a new soccer-specific stadium.[21] Club owner Bill Edwards has stated that "in a perfect world", Al Lang Stadium would be replaced by an 18,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, enabling the Rowdies to become a Major League Soccer club.[22]

Club culture

Club shield in 2010 and 2011


Ralph Rowdie

When the club first took the pitch in 2010, the badge was a green and yellow striped shield bearing the club name (FC Tampa Bay) and topped with a star representing the original Rowdies' victory in Soccer Bowl 1975. The badge was changed before the 2012 season to the original "Rowdies" text logo, and a second star was added after the club won Soccer Bowl 2012.[23]


Ralph's Mob is an independent supporter group for the Rowdies named after "Ralph Rowdie", a fictional mustached footballer featured in the logo of the original Tampa Bay Rowdies.[24][25] The group is known for wearing green and gold striped scarves, socks, and face paint, and for loudly cheering on their team while teasing opponents, much like the "Fannies" of the original Rowdies.[26][27][28] Ralph's Mob has a designated seating area at home matches. Many members also travel to away games, particularly when the Rowdies play at in-state rival Fort Lauderdale.[29][30]


The Rowdies' main rivalry is with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The rivalry began in 1977 between the original Tampa Bay Rowdies and the original Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL when the term Florida Derby was first used.[31] It came back into use again in the late 1990s, when both cities had MLS franchises (the Tampa Bay Mutiny & Miami Fusion).[32] Finally in 2010, after a nine-year absence Florida Derby re-entered the lexicon of American soccer, as the current squads began facing one another.[33]

Coastal Cup

The Coastal Cup (est. 2010) originally was contested between the Rowdies and Strikers, but with Jacksonville Armada FC's entry into the league in 2015, the competition has become triangular.[34] The league has announced that beginning in the 2016 season a new Miami FC team will join the NASL.[35] This addition would make the Coastal Cup a quadrilateral competition.

Rowdies Cup

Each August, the University of South Florida men's soccer team face their crosstown rivals, the University of Tampa Spartans, in an NCAA men's preseason soccer match which celebrates the Tampa Bay Area's rich soccer history. In addition to holding the Rowdies Cup trophy for the next 12 months, the winning side also gets to hoist the actual 1975 Soccer Bowl trophy that was won by the original Tampa Bay Rowdies and is housed at USF's Corbett Soccer Stadium. As of the 2015 edition, USF holds a 18–9–3 edge in the all-time series, which dates back to 1972.[36][37][38]

Players and staff

Current roster

as of July 15, 2015[39]
No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Čontofalský, KamilKamil Čontofalský      Slovakia
2 Defender King, DarnellDarnell King      United States
3 Midfielder Menjivar, RichardRichard Menjivar      El Salvador
4 Defender Sweat, BenBen Sweat      United States
5 Defender Antonijevic, StefanStefan Antonijevic      Serbia
7 Midfielder Nuñez, MartinMartin Nuñez      Uruguay
8 Midfielder Saragosa, MarceloMarcelo Saragosa      Brazil
9 Midfielder Adu, FreddyFreddy Adu      United States
10 Midfielder Hristov, GeorgiGeorgi Hristov      Bulgaria
11 Forward Hertzog, CoreyCorey Hertzog      United States
13 Midfielder Chavez, JustinJustin Chavez      United States
14 Midfielder Michaud, JeffJeff Michaud      United States
15 Defender Portillos, ZacZac Portillos      United States
16 Midfielder Guerra, Juan FranciscoJuan Francisco Guerra      Venezuela
17 Defender Mkandawire, TamikaTamika Mkandawire      England
18 Goalkeeper Pickens, MattMatt Pickens      United States
19 Midfielder Välimaa, VerneriVerneri Välimaa      Finland
20 Forward Espinal, DarwinDarwin Espinal      Honduras
21 Forward Shriver, BrianBrian Shriver      United States
22 Midfielder Savage, KeithKeith Savage      United States
23 Midfielder Fernandez, MarquezMarquez Fernandez      United States
24 Goalkeeper Glodack, ChrisChris Glodack      United States
25 Defender Balchan, RichRich Balchan      United States
26 Forward Hernández, RobertRobert Hernández      Venezuela
27 Forward Tan, LongLong Tan (on loan from Arizona United)     China
29 Forward Santos, MaiconMaicon Santos      Brazil
31 Defender Hunt, WillieWillie Hunt      United States
33 Forward Boggs, ZakZak Boggs      United States

Retired numbers

Technical staff

  • Perry Van der BeckAssistant General Manager/Vice President of Community Relations
  • Stuart CampbellHead Coach
  • Stuart Dobson - Goalkeeper Coach
  • Eric Arbuzow - Assistant Coach
  • Jason Riley – Strength & Conditioning Coach
  • Malcolm Phillips – Equipment Manager
  • Dr. Koco Eaton - Team Physician/Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Dr. Sanjay Menon – Team Physician/Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Dr. Christopher Salud – Team Physician
  • Andrew Keane - Head Athletic Trainer
  • Laura Tllinghast Hine - Yoga Instructor
  • Dr. Samuel Meyers - Team Chiropractor

Front office

  • Bill Edwards – Chairman, Chief Executive Officer & Governor
  • Andrew Nestor – Director
  • David LaxerDirector
  • Lee Cohen – Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Head coaches


Individual Achievements

2013: Georgi Hristov

2012: Ricky Hill

2011: Pascal Millien, Mike Ambersley
2012: Jeff Attinella, Takuya Yamada, Luke Mulholland
2013: Georgi Hristov


Year Division League Regular Season Playoffs Open Cup Avg. Attendance
2010 2 USSF Division 2 6th, USL (10th) Did not qualify 2nd Round 3,866
2011 2 NASL 3rd Lost in 1st Round Denied entry 3,010
2012 2 NASL 2nd Won Championship 3rd Round 3,116
2013 2 NASL Spring: 4th
Fall: 3rd
Did not qualify 4th Round 4,044
2014 2 NASL Spring: 7th
Fall: 8th
Did not qualify 3rd Round 4,998
2015 2 NASL Spring: 2th
Fall: 8th
Did not qualify 3rd Round 5,649

Notable friendlies

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ a b
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  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Ralph's Mob: Linking to the Rowdies Legacy" –
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^

External links

  • Official site
  • USL News Release
  • Ralph's Mob (supporters group)
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