Schäfer after his Rowdies debut
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 28, 2017) — Eight days after arriving in the United States, Marcel Schäfer finally had a chance to catch his breath and do what he loves most Saturday night — compete on the field.
Schäfer made his Rowdies debut in Tampa Bay’s win over Orlando City B, playing the full 90 minutes in his first match with his new teammates.
He arrived in Miami on Friday, March 17 to meet the Rowdies and watch their preseason match against Miami FC the following morning. From there, he had his first journey across Alligator Alley and up the west coast of Florida, his first crossing of Tampa Bay’s iconic Sunshine Skyway bridge and his first visit to Al Lang Stadium.
His first week in the U.S. can be best described as “hectic.”
Schäfer had medical and paperwork appointments Monday, trained with the team for the first time and served as co-social captain at the Tampa Bay Lightning game on Tuesday and met Rowdies fans at the season kickoff party Thursday. Mixed in all that was more training sessions, getting to know St. Petersburg and finding a place to live, as well as preparing for the arrival of his family Sunday night.
“It was a lot to do,” Schäfer said Tuesday morning after training. “I had one week to organize a lot before my family arrived and it was an amazing week. We had a big win against Orlando City B with a great atmosphere Saturday night. I was really excited. First week, first win. Everything is really good.”
As exhausted as he may have been physically and emotionally, you wouldn’t have known it from his intensely-focused demeanor on the field.
Schäfer played as one half of the Rowdies’ double pivot of defensive midfielders alongside Martin Vingaard. As a defensive unit, Tampa Bay stifled Orlando City B to the point of suffocation, allowing just three shots (one on target) and one touch in the Rowdies’ 18-yard box all night.
The German completed 35 passes, had two tackles and three interceptions.
“To win games is the most important thing in my life since I was five years old,” Schäfer said. “As a soccer player, you train every day for Saturday night, for the main part of the week. To win games is why I’m here. That’s why I’m a soccer player and that’s what I live for.”
With his family in town and his green and gold debut in the books, Schäfer can now settle into his groove and really get to know his new environment.
“My wife and I are looking for a house now because we need space for our three kids and all the family that wants to come visit us in Florida,” he said. “I’m excited to see more of St. Pete. The first impression from us is that it’s really, really nice. It’s a great downtown with everything you need, plus it’s on the water. It’s nice to wake up and see the sun. You’re very happy and you can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the day.”
Schäfer hopes to keep the good vibes going this weekend when the Rowdies host Toronto FC II at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night. For tickets, call (727) 222-2000 or click here.