The Tampa Bay Rowdies today announced the transfer of forward Tsuyoshi Yoshitake to Yokohama FC Hong Kong, a professional club in the Hong Kong First Division. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Yokohama FC Hong Kong is a sister club of Yokohama FC in Japan, where Yoshitake began his professional career in 2000 and made 133 appearances in six seasons while scoring nine goals.
Yoshitake, who turns 31 next month, joined the Rowdies prior to the 2011 season and played in 40 matches during his Tampa Bay career. He scored seven goals and totaled five assists during his two seasons in Tampa Bay.
Yokohama FC approached the Rowdies with an offer to acquire Yoshitake to play for Yokohama FC Hong Kong. For international transfer, both the selling club and player have to approve the transfer.
“Yoshi represented our organization in a first-class manner during his time here and I wish him and his family the best,” said Rowdies President & General Manager Andrew Nestor. “This is a good opportunity for Yoshi to honor the club that gave him his pro start, and also a good move for the Rowdies to keep our veteran stars as well as our young rising stars on the roster going forward, and utilize the depth we have at the forward position now.”
QUOTE FROM YOSHITAKE:
“This was an extremely hard decision for me to make. I was torn apart, and if it was an offer from a different club, I would have turned it down. However, Yokohama FC is where I debuted professionally, and played for seven years before coming over to the US. And Yokohama FC Hong Kong is the first sister team in J. League history to start up in the Hong Kong League. I thought that now is my only chance to go back close to Japan, and also a great opportunity for me to demonstrate what I have gained in the United States. I expect that my performance will be a reflection of the Rowdies in that region. I also hope to be given your understanding and support towards my decision, and both my family and I sincerely appreciate the Rowdies, fans, my friends, the community and my teammates for everything. I am going to miss you all, but look forward to hearing that the Rowdies won the Championship this season.”
In 2011, Yoshitake played in 25 matches, totaling 1,521 minutes played with one goal scored and three assists. In 2012, Yoshitake has played in 15 matches with 1,045 minutes played with six goals and two assists, ranking third on the club with 14 points. He earned NASL Player of the Month honors for the month of June 2012, during which time he totaled 11 of his 14 points for the season.
“We are sad to see one of our members leave the club," said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. "The club had an offer to sell Yoshi, and all parties accepted this special opportunity for a new experience in life for him and his family. We are definitely going to miss him, but I know we have a strong team with some excellent depth. We do wish him all the best. He has been a fantastic professional while he was here."
Tampa Bay currently sits in second place in the NASL standings, just two points behind league leaders San Antonio. The Rowdies travel to meet Carolina tonight, Saturday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. before returning home to face Atlanta on Saturday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg, presented by Buick/GMC. For tickets, call 813-287-1539.