Thursday night marked a historic moment for the Tampa Bay Rowdies family, as former and current Rowdies joined fans, community leaders, and local dignitaries in celebrating the return of American soccer’s premier classic rivalry – Rowdies vs. Cosmos.
The 2013 Rowdies Soccer Summit presented by DEX Imaging and proudly sponsored by United World Soccer was highlighted by Rowdies legends Rodney Marsh, Mike Connell, Eddie Firmani, and Perry Van Der Beck. Also joining Rowdies alumni and current players and coaches were North American Soccer League Commissioner Bill Peterson and FOX Soccer’s JP Dellacamera and Eric Wynalda.
“I credit Rodney Marsh as my inspiration to play soccer,” commented the former U.S. men’s national team star. “Growing up I would see how he influenced the sport and I always aspired to have a soccer career like his.”
The memorable event featured a special moment for the City of St. Petersburg as Rowdies CEO and General Manager Andrew Nestor presented St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster with the City’s 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl championship ring
“Tonight highlighted the iconic impact of the Rowdies and Cosmos,” said Nestor. “Bringing together Rowdies legends like Rodney Marsh and Mike Connell with current players, community leaders, and soccer supporters showed the power of the sport of soccer, its enduring legacy in this community, and the potential for a bright future.”
The Rowdies Soccer Summit gathered different generations of the Rowdies family, who throughout the night voiced their support and belief in the future growth of this club and the NASL.
“The names on the back of those jerseys will change,” explained Technical Director Perry Van Der Beck. “However, the tradition and history of this club will not.”
It was an emotional night for former Rowdies legend “Iron Mike” Connell, as he spoke to the guests about his feelings going into Saturday night’s jersey retirement ceremony.
“I have been waiting for this day since they told me they were going to retire my #6. The rivalry on Saturday is the Yankees-Red Sox of soccer and to be honored at this match is an unbelievable experience. It is such an honor to have players from the past and present attend this event, as it shows not only the rich history of this club, but also how the past Rowdies legends believe in this club’s future.”
North American Soccer League Commissioner Bill Peterson was on hand to give attendees his thoughts on the recent growth of the league.
“There is no limit to where the NASL can go,” stated Commissioner Peterson. “We want great experiences for our fans and we feel that in recent times we have accomplished that. The city of St. Petersburg is a great home for the Rowdies and they have really cherished this club as their own. The league is headed the right direction and part of that is thanks to the tremendous support the fans have given us.”
With the Rowdies and Cosmos renewing their rivalry this Saturday, August 10 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, this event gave attendees the chance to hear what makes this one of the strongest rivalries in the U.S. This weekend’s match will kick off at 7:30 p.m., with both clubs knowing that they will need a win to inch closer to a spot in the NASL Soccer Bowl 2013. To purchase tickets for this historic match, call (813) 287-1539 or click here.