ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (November 30, 2017) — With 2018 and a new United Soccer League season rapidly approaching, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have made their first set of roster transactions for the season ahead. The club announced on Thursday that at least nine members of the 2017 roster are set to return next season.
Headlining the group of returnees are international midfielders Joe Cole and Marcel Schäfer, who both are under contract until the end of the 2018 season. Cole will be entering his third season with the Rowdies, scoring 16 goals and tallying 12 assists in 52 matches.
Schäfer joined the Rowdies ahead of the 2017 season and led the club with 11 assists, setting a Modern-Era club record for most assists in a season. The German midfielder also scored seven goals, which ultimately landed him a spot in the 2017 USL All-League First Team.
“We’re excited to bring back a strong core of the 2017 roster, which helped us break multiple club records in our first season in USL,” said Rowdies Chairman & CEO Bill Edwards. “I believe we have a great coaching staff that is prepared to bring the USL Cup to St. Petersburg in 2018 and they are working extremely hard to prepare an even stronger roster for the upcoming season. Our amazing fans deserve a championship team after all the fantastic support the club has received season-after-season.”
Returning players include goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, who had four shutouts in his six starts during the 2017 season. Defenders Neill Collins and Zac Portillos will both be back to anchor a strong defensive third, which posted a Modern-Era club record 14 shutouts in the Rowdies inaugural USL season.
Midfielders Michael Nanchoff, Alex Morrell (option exercised) and Martin Vingaard and forward Sebastian Guenzatti will all be returning for the 2018 season, as they look to build upon a record-breaking 2017 season. All four players played an instrumental role in breaking the Modern-Era club record for most points in a regular season (53).
The Rowdies continue to have discussions with Nico Campbell, Darnell King, Kyle Porter, Tamika Mkandawire, Hunter Gorskie, Keith Savage, Leo Fernandes, Justin Chavez, Walter Restrepo, Darwin Jones, Martin Paterson and Georgi Hristov, who are all currently not under contract for the 2018 season.
The Rowdies will continue to build upon their 2017 achievements, with several new additions to the roster being announced in the coming weeks.
For information on how to become a 2018 Rowdies season ticket holder, please call (727) 222-2000 or click here.