ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (January 30, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies have re-signed defender Tarek Morad and forward Leon Taylor to new contracts for the 2019 USL Championship season.
Morad signed with the Rowdies late last season and immediately became a key contributor for the Rowdies playoff push. He made his Rowdies debut August 8 in a scoreless draw against the Charleston Battery and played every minute of every match for the rest of the season, totaling 1,170 minutes in 13 starts.
“Tarek doesn’t need much of an introduction after the impact he had here last year as a late-season signing,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “I didn’t think we would have the opportunity to bring Tarek back because of his ambitions to go play overseas, but we’re delighted to have him. I believe we can help him achieve his personal goals by giving him a platform to succeed with the Rowdies. He will be very important from a leadership standpoint on and off the field with his experience of having won the USL Cup before.”
Morad, 26, sat out the first half of the 2018 season after leaving Louisville City FC following the 2017 USL Cup Final. He came to Tampa Bay with nearly 100 matches and 8,000 minutes of USL experience from three years with Louisville and one with OKC Energy FC.
Taylor, 25, joined the Rowdies last April after a lengthy training stint with the club. He had to wait until June 9 to make his Rowdies debut but marked it with a goal 20 minutes after entering the match as a substitute. He made his first start a week later and scored again, ultimately scoring in each of his first three matches.
In all, he scored four games in 12 appearances in 2018.
“We’re delighted to have Leon back in the squad,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “He made a lot of fans last year for the same reasons we wanted him back in the squad. He works hard, he fights for every opportunity and he makes the most of his chances. He’s a young, hungry player that will continue to grow this season.”
Before joining the Rowdies, Taylor played in Sweden with Bodens FK.
With Morad and Taylor, there are now seven returning players from the Rowdies 2018 roster.