ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 11, 2017) — Eleven Tampa Bay Rowdies players gathered together for a photo prior to kickoff of the Rowdies’ match against the Ottawa Fury FC in a moment that slightly resembled a photo from the United Nations.
The Rowdies’ eleven players at the start of the match represented eight different nationalities with only the United States, Jamaica and England sending more than one delegate to the summit.
The roll call looked like this:
Akira Fitzgerald (Japan)
Darnell King (USA)
Damion Lowe (Jamaica)
Neill Collins (Scotland)
Luke Boden (England)
Martin Vingaard (Denmark)
Marcel Schäfer (Germany)
Michael Nanchoff (USA)
Joe Cole (England)
Georgi Hristov (Bulgaria)
Deshorn Brown (Jamaica)
You could be forgiven for expecting a few communication issues on the field with so many different nations and languages represented, but it isn’t an issue for the Rowdies.
Each member of the back four — though they hail from four different countries — comes from a different English-speaking nation.
“It’s not been a problem so far,” Collins said with a laugh. “We spend a lot of time talking together, along with Tam (Mkandawire) and Justin (Chavez) about how we play and setting up those relationships. Damion nods a lot, so maybe he actually doesn’t understand my accent.”
The Rowdies’ defensive midfield pairing of Vingaard and Schäfer comes from bordering nations in Europe, Denmark and Germany. The two have struck a great relationship on and off the field. They speak to each other in English.
Asked if Germans and Danes typically get along, Schäfer said yes.
“We have to speak in English to each other, but he does understand a little bit of German,” Schäfer said. “I think children in Denmark learn German in school, but he’s forgotten most of his German.”
Boden, who provided the cross that Georgi Hristov headed for the only goal in a 1-0 win, said the Rowdies’ multiculturalism is a good analogue for the game as a whole.
“I think you need that diversity,” Boden said. “I don’t think nationality or anything like that matters. If you’ve got a good team spirit and everybody’s on the same page, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got 11 American lads or a team full of different internationals. Everyone gets along in our locker room, there’s no little cliques and that’s the biggest thing.”