Goalkeeper Diego Restrepo made 12 saves to help secure his Tampa Bay Rowdies a 0-0 draw against the visiting New York Cosmos on Saturday and earned the North American Soccer League Player of the Week award.
“It is an honor to get my first Player of the Week award,” said Restrepo, who is the second consecutive Rowdies player to take the weekly award. “Luckily I was able to make several saves on Saturday to keep us in the match and I would also like to thank my teammates for staying concentrated defensively the full 90 minutes. My job is to keep the clean sheet and I am very happy I was able to do so.”
The sold out crowd of 7,032 not only witness the renewed rivalry between the Rowdies-Cosmos, after almost 30 years, but they also saw a stellar performance by Venezuelan keeper Restrepo who stopped every shot on goal that New York could throw at him.
The visitors came just short of scoring in with several opportunities in the final third of the match. Spanish midfielder Marcos Senna saw his shot from point blank range saved by the feet of a diving Restrepo in 66th minute and then the unbeatable Rowdies keeper also stopped Senna’s 30-yard free kick in the 75th minute. Restrepo produced another close save to deny Spanish midfielder Ayoze with 13 minutes remaining.
“It is great that the league has chosen Diego as Player of the Week,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill added. “He had a fantastic match and credit to him for making several saves that helped us earn a point on Saturday. He has really grown as a goalkeeper since his arrival and matches like these help him grow in confidence.”
Prior to joining the Rowdies in March of 2013, the native of Merida, Venezuela, Restrepo played in Colombia for club powerhouse America de Cali in 2011. Restrepo then played 2012 with one of Venezuela’s most popular clubs, Deportivo Tachira.
Although born in Venezuela, Restrepo lived in Colombia until he was 11 before his family moved to the United States. His outstanding high school performances at American Heritage School earned him a spot in the U.S. U-17 National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. In 2005, Restrepo was a member of the U.S. squad that participated in the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.