ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (December 4, 2018) — Construction of the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ 2019 USL Championship roster is officially underway, with four members of the 2018 roster now confirmed as returning.
The first four players from the Rowdies 2018 squad that are set to return for 2019 are defender David Najem, midfielders Leo Fernandes and Dominic Oduro, as well as forward Sebastian Guenzatti. Additional members of the 2018 roster could re-sign at a later date.
In this quartet of players, Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins welcomes back a strong core of dynamic talent.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have these players returning to the club,” Collins said. “The fans know the technical ability they bring, but additionally, the character and personality of this group is important for me. Their commitment to being here and being a part of something new is exciting. They bring a level of continuity for us, and I look forward to meshing their skillset with their new teammates to elevate everyone with added competition.”
Najem, 26, signed with the Rowdies last season and won the starting right back position in preseason camp. He started the year in great form before having his season cut short by a knee injury in April. Najem has recovered from that injury and is expected to open preseason camp in full health.
Fernandes, also 26, has played each of the last two seasons in Tampa Bay after joining from the Philadelphia Union. He scored three goals and had three assists in 28 matches in 2018 as a left winger and wingback.
Oduro, 23, signed with the Rowdies last summer from USL League Two’s FC Golden State Force and made an immediate impact in his jump to the professional ranks. He scored a 90th minute equalizer in his Tampa Bay debut and went on to play in 18 of the Rowdies subsequent 20 matches, including a streak of 14 matches in which he played every minute.
Guenzatti, 27, will return for his third season in Tampa Bay after finishing 2018 as the Rowdies’ third-leading scorer with five goals. All five of his finishes came in the final two months of the season. He scored the second hat trick in modern Rowdies history in a 3-0 win over North Carolina FC in September.
With this group re-signed for 2019, the Rowdies return a combined 77 appearances and 5,224 minutes from 2018’s campaign.
New members of the Rowdies will be announced starting tomorrow.