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THE BENCH VOLUME IV ISSUE 3

MAY 2019


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Bench is a Digital Monthly Publication by The Unused Substitutes STAFF Words: Jake Nutting Photographs: Patrick Patterson Editing: Matthew Cox Layout & Design: Kody Allenson The Candidate: Dan Endonino Ferret Emertius: Rose

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 6 | Page 8 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 15 |

Eastern Conference Update Tailgate Talk Neill Collins Checks In Van Der Beck Remembers Lockhart Playing the Kids Paterson’s role in Rowdies rebuild McCarthy finally getting his shot


EASTERN CONFERENCE

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The Rowdies have opened up a little breathing room at the top of the table, with a four point lead and a game in hand over second place Nashville. There’s not a lot of breathing room in the rest of the top ten, but keep an eye on Pittsburgh, who has only played 9 league games so far and is behind 3 clubs who haven’t notched a win in their last 5 matches. Another team that could be trending upwards is Ottawa, who are tied with the Rowdies for the best form in their last 5 matches. They’re sitting in 7th, 8 points back, but have 1-3 games in hand on all the top four clubs. POS CLUB 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES NASHVILLE SC NEW YORK RED BULLS II NORTH CAROLINA FC SAINT LOUIS FC INDY ELEVEN OTTAWA FURY FC LOUISVILLE CITY FC CHARLESTON BATTERY BETHLEHEM STEEL FC ATLANTA UNITED 2 BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC MEMPHIS 901 FC LOUDOUN UNITED FC CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE SWOPE PARK RANGERS HARTFORD ATHLETIC

GP W L D GD 12 13 11 11 10 10 10 12 11 12 12 11 9 12 9 12 11 12

7 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1

0 3 3 2 1 2 2 3 2 5 5 5 1 6 4 6 6 9

5 4 2 4 4 3 3 3 5 4 4 3 6 4 3 5 4 2

+14 +10 +9 +9 +6 +6 +5 +1 +3 -4 -6 -9 +1 -5 -2 -9 -11 -18

P

FORM

26 DDWWW 22 LWDWD 20 WWDLL 19 WDLDW LDWDD 19 LDDWD 18 18 WDWWD 18 WLWDD 17 WDDLD LDDLD 13 LLDDD 13 LDLDL 12 12 WDDDD LLDWD 10 WLDWL 9 DDLDD 8 WLDDL 7 LDLWD 5

GLOSSARY GP: GAMES PLAYED | W: WINS | L: LOSSES | D: DRAWS | GD: GOAL DIFFERENCE |P: POINTS TIEBREAKERS Total Wins | GD | Goals Scored | Points earned against top four | FIFA Fair Play points | Lottery conducted by USL


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TAILGATE TALK

Rowdies keeper John McCarthy has already helped one team make a deep run in the Open Cup. McCarthy started in four Open Cup victories for the Philadelphia Union (including two clean sheets) before being benched in favor of Andre Blake in the cup final. After the match was level 1-1 after 120 minutes, McCarthy was brought in off the bench for penalties but he could not stop Sporting Kansas City from claiming the cup. McCarthy sat out the Rowdies’ Open Cup meeting with The Villages in the Second Round, but could be in net on Tuesday considering the Rowdies are facing a USL Championship foe.

No surprise here but the Rowdies have a very poor record away from home in the US Open Cup. They’ve won just one Open Cup match played outside of Florida, which happens to be the very first Open Cup match they ever played when they defeated Legends FC in Dallas, Texas. They’ve won two other road matches in the competition, but those were played in the Sunshine State. In total they’ve lost 8 road contests in the Open Cup.

Former Rowdies forward Deshorn Brown has found a home with Tuesday’s opponent OKC Energy after his short stint with DC United and a stop at Lorca FC in the Spanish fourth division. Brown has only appeared in 8 matches so far this year but leads the club with 6 goals.


BY JAKE NUTTING

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The Rowdies will staying on the road throughout the week. They’ll travel to Oklahoma City on Monday morning and stay there through Wednesday before traveling to face Birmingham for the first time. They’ll finally return home on Sunday. It should be a good test of how much Collins has improved the road form. Did you know at one point the Rowdies were worried they might lose out on signing Juan Tejada? Memphis had him on a short trial but nothing came of it. The Panamanian forward kept impressing Neill Collins and his staff every time he took the field in preseason as a trialist, but the club was set on capping the roster at 23 players. Initially, they thought about signing him and then loaning him to a USL League One team, but his performance against Orlando was so convincing that they realized there’s no way they could convince him to go on loan. They were concerned any of the teams the Rowdies faced in preseason would swoop him up as soon as the Rowdies passed. Four goals later and everything seems to have worked out.


NEILL COLLINS

ON THE HOT START TO 2019 & THE US OPEN CUP

What did you think of the team’s performance against Swope Park? NC: It wasn’t the heights we’ve been at but I thought we thoroughly deserved the win. ​We found a way to win & please let’s never get complacent about winning. Swope Park are a very organized, very well-coached side. If you look across the league, the games are tight. One thing you’ve got to give us credit for, the players came back from a really big game last week and they trained this week like they were contenders, they didn’t train like they were the top of the league.They trained like they were trying to get there and we need to keep doing that. We’ll play better in the future, but we got three points and kept a clean sheet. You created a fair amount of chances but couldn’t finish any aside from the penalty. NC: We hit the post and we had chances across the face of goal. We’d like to create a little bit more, but equally when you don’t take your chances it always looks worse. If you take your chances everyone thinks everything is rosy. Scoring early at home helps and

we didn’t. The boys kept going right to the end. Leo Fernandes, who has been fantastic, stepped up. I will be telling him off because I asked Andrew Tinari to hit the penalty, but he had the heart mindset to take it and scored the goal and that’s the kind of characters we want I suppose. We’re at the point where we’re still learning, still improving. They are young, but they’ve had a couple of nights like this and I think they’ve all learned and I’ve learned from it. Tonight we managed to get over the line. We might not have. (Swope) defended stoutly and they put bodies in front of the goa and they made it difficult and they looked to threat on the counter. It’s nice to improve when you’ve got three points behind you. What role has Leo Fernandes played in your rebuild of this squad? NC: Leo’s a great example of how to win my mind and heart. He came in, sees himself as a winger, he’s always played high up on the field. We played him there to mixed results and then we put him to the left wingback and he was in and out at that point in time. You know what he did? He got his head down, he trained


INTERVIEW BY JAKE NUTTING unbelievably hard. He was excellent in training and when his opportunity came he took it. That’s the kind of people I like. People that might want to play and they’re not getting picked but they react well. Leo’s done that and he’s come back and he’s upped his standards and he’s driven everyone else on. Along with people like Sebastian Guenzatti, they’ve raised the standards in the locker room. What you see on the field with Leo is great and he’s a talented player, but he’s actually developed into an important leader, which can go unnoticed but it doesn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff. What are you expecting out in OKC on Tuesday? NC: It’s an opportunity to win a cup game. The cup’s always something a bit special and a bit different. We want the opportunity to try and play an MLS team, ideally here. It’ll be a really tough game, Western Conference team, lots of travel. Its kinda unusual to do that. These boys will need to rest up, we’ll need to look at the squad. They’re playing with so much intensity. They’ll be ready to go. The team that we put out there will be designed to try and win the game. How do you feel about the way the team has performed on the road so far? NC: I do think in the last year our away form has improved quite drastically. We still took our knocks on the road last year but we managed to pick up two or three victories, which we hadn’t seen much before. We’ve really carried that on. Heading into next week, it’s a long time on the road. It’s a bit of an anomaly, heading out to USL Western Conference opponent at this stage. But you know what, it just gives us another challenge. In

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terms of preparation, we know we have a squad of players that will probably all see the field next week. That’s great as a coach, being able to give these guys an opportunity. I can only pick 11. I’d love to pick ‘em all. I really feel that way about them. I’d love to give them all opportunity to play. Next week they’ll probably get that chance. Your hot start to the year has changed external expectations of the team across the league and you’re no longer an unknown quantity. Does that change anything for you?

NC: Teams don’t need any added motivation here. The atmosphere created by the fans, teams have always raised their game for that. I think they’re gonna be even more motivated to beat us but this team is about constantly rising to the challenges. They’ve set new standards for themselves. Obviously the expectations

in the building haven’t changed. We’ve had a nice start to the season, but we know that cliches are cliche for a reason. We really try to focus on one game at a time. Whatever’s been done previously doesn’t really matter. The longer we can do that and keep our focus the better it’ll be for us. Whatever anyone’s expectations are out there, nothing in the building changes. I’m just glad the fans get to enjoy some victories but I hope that understand that they’ve got a group of lads that are giving it all for the jersey. We might not always be playing so well, but I hope they can always appreciate the effort, the hunger and the desire to do it for the Rowdies.


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As an integral part of Tampa Bay Rowdies history and the history of professional soccer in Florida, Perry Van Der Beck has spent his fair share of time at Lockhart Stadium. ”I’ll never forget when we started what I call the NASL rebirth back in 2008 or 2009; our league meetings were down there,” Van Der Beck said. “They said ‘Perry, were gonna have our league meetings at Lockhart Stadium. Do you know where it is?’ With my eyes closed.” ”You look at Lockhart; first and foremost it’s the Rowdies-Strikers rivalry. We always went down trying to silence the crowd. It was an electric atmosphere. Just thinking about Lockhart Stadium itself, I was there as a player, as a coach, as a club executive, and as a fan. Those are all special memories.” Lockhart Stadium was constructed in 1959 but the site’s close association to soccer didn’t catch on until nearly 20 years later when the NASL’s Miami Toros moved there in 1977 and changed their name to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Van Der Beck was a youth player in St. Louis at the time but was acutely aware of the new rivalry brewing in Florida between the Rowdies and Strikers. While training with the St. Louis Stars as a junior in high school, one of the players asked which NASL team he’d like to play for. He immediately answered the Rowdies and had his wish fulfilled when the club picked him in the draft straight out of high school.” I couldn’t wait,” he said. “When I joined the Rowdies in 1978, that was one

PERRY VAN DER BECK of the biggest rivalries in the NASL. You look at all these players that played for Fort Lauderdale. World class players. You’re looking at Gordon Banks, George Best, Gerd Müller. Ossie Ardiles, Ricardo Villa, Elías Figueroa, who was South American player of the year, Ray Hudson, Nene Cubillas.You look all these players up, they’re all world class players that actually played for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Having that rivalry, going down there, it’s something you can never forget.” A moment involving Van Der Beck and George Best instantly comes to mind when the Rowdies legend reflects on his favorite moments on the field at Lockhart. ”My heart is and always will be with the Rowdies. It was always a great little intimate venue that could hold 18,000. And the fans were just as passionate as any in the country,” he said. “I remember we were playing at the Strikers and I was playing at right back and I got an opportunity to go forward. As I got the opportunity to go forward in the box George Best takes me down and it was because of that PK that we ended up tying the game. Here I am not just playing on the field but contributing to it.” Getting to Lockhart for a rivalry match was always part of the fun, according to Van Der Beck. He thinks Gordon Jago might’ve been a bit superstitious as they’d always take the same mode of transportation down from Tampa Bay if they’d won the previous time. ”Tailgating back then was big. All those fans were out there an hour and a half to two hours before the game. And


REMEMBERS LOCKHART they knew the route for the bus to come into the stadium to get close to the locker room. So they’d all line up with their Strikers jerseys on,” he recalled. ‘That just kinda elevated the atmosphere before the game even started. Every time we played against the Strikers, it was the adrenaline going into it. Our fans going into it, their fans always bringing the enthusiasm. You walk off that bus, you’re getting booed.” ”Despite his allegiances to the Rowdies, Van Der Beck has a lot of respect for the community that existed around the Strikers at Lockhart. Official demolition on the Lockhart started earlier this month, paving the way for David Beckham’s Inter Miami FC to start construction on an 18,000 seat modular stadium to house the MLS team until they can finalize its permanent home in Miami. ”It’s sad, but I understand,” Van Der Beck said. “I think with the plans the Inter Miami group have, to be successful they’ve gotta prepare the right way. Building an 18,000 seat stadium is their plan with some adjoining fields so they can have their academy. For them to have a state of the art complex as something they want to invest in and grow the game, I’m all for it. I’d hope there’s some small piece that remains as a remembrance of what Lockhart meant to the people in South Florida. It’s not just Strikers games that were played there, there were a lot of international games that were played there too. That was the spot to go.” The Green and Gold are not the only colors Van Der Beck represented as a player at Lockhart. He also represented his country at the highest level as a member of the U.S. national team and the US Olympic team.

9 The Olympic team’s successful qualification for the 1980 Olympics included a win against Bermuda at Lockhart. Van Der Beck would’ve captained the team at the Olympics if not for the U.S. boycotting the event due to the Soviet Union’s invasion ofAfghanistan.Van Der Beck was also part of a much more infamous national team game at Lockhart. Having already been eliminated from the World Cup Qualification ahead of the 1982 tournament, the U.S. rallied to dispatch Mexico on the home turf at Lockhart.” It was kinda called the forgotten game because we beat Mexico and no one can find a full tape of the match,” he said. “It was an embarrassment for the Mexican Federation and their whole country. Even though we were eliminated, we still had to play in the qualifier. And we won 2-1. There’s highlights, but nobody can find the full tape. People have tried to get the tape of that game. They have it, because it was televised, but no can seem to come up with it. ”It may be hard to believe now, but Lockhart was a pristine place to play a game of soccer back in the day before years of neglect took its toll. Van Der Beck has seen the rise and decline of Lockhart from all perspectives throughout the years with the Rowdies, Team USA, the national team and the Tampa Bay Mutiny. ”That field was always immaculate, one of the best in the country. It kills me to see the photos from the Inter Miami press conferences to see where the field’s at now. I know they’re going through a demolition but there’s weeds on the field now and just


10 just kills me to see where things used to be and where they are now.” It’s undoubtedly the end of an era as Lockhart comes down after over 40 years of being themagnet for so much soccer in South Florida and this country. Soccer will still be played on the site, but Inter Miami has a big legacy to live up to as the new tenant of the site. “When you Google those images you go ‘My God that was the late 70s. What happened? Where did it go?’ You never want to forget these things,” Van Der Beck said. “Even when I was here playing for the Rowdies at Tampa Stadium. There’s no comparison to Raymond James, but youlook at the history and the tradition, the sunshine, the music, the fans, the cheerleaders, the Loudies band, the tailgates. It’s a different generation now, but those are very good memories.”

LOCKHART MEMORIES


PLAYING THE KIDS

“There’s no reason a local teenager can’t be playing for the Rowdies.” That was a comment from Rowdies COO Lee Cohen the day that the sale of the Rowdies to the Tampa Bay Rays was made public. The Rowdies and Cohen followed through on that statement this month by featuring two local teenagers in the club’s 4-1 victory over The Villages SC in the Second Round of the Lamar HuntU.S. Open Cup. Robbie Soronellas (UNF) of Steinbrenner High entered the match in the 46th minute and Jack Casey (Dartmouth) of Plant High followed him in the 67th minute. Both youth players with Tampa Bay United Soccer, Soronellas has committed to play at University of North Florida while Jack Casey will be attending Dartmouth. If you were wondering how these two could feature for the Rowdies in a competitive match in the Open Cup and still maintain their NCAA eligibility, let us introduce you to the USL Academy contract. USL Championship clubs are allowed to sign up to five players from an academy they are affiliated with to academy contract. You already saw the academy contract allows the youngsters to play in the Open Cup, but it also makes them eligible for league matches. Sacramento Republic FC and San Antonio FC have also utilized USL academy contracts. Throwing the kids into the fray was not done on a whim. Both players (and Dan Wintermeier of Palm Harbor University High School, who also signed an academy contract with the Rowdies) were initially identified by the Rowdies coaching staff at a clinic with TBU players ranging from13-17 last year while the 2018 season was still ongoing. All three have been training with the first team when possible and also received minutes in a few preseason matches.

11 Don’t expect to see Casey or Soronellas back on the field anytime soon. Rowdies head coach Neill Collins has made it a point to improve the pathway to the Rowdies and the pro ranks for youth players in the area, but it’s going to take time. The early success of these academy signings will hopefully lead the way for even more youth players in the future.” Anyone that coaches, they’ll tell you that’s the moments, it’s not winning or losing, it’s just a young boy who deserves his opportunity making his professional debut,” Collins said after Casey and Soronellas’ Open Cup appearance. “I think all the hard work that him and his parents have put in years, to step on a professional field and play. To be able to give him that opportunity is really good. It’s something that we need to do more of, but again it has to be earned. Everyone has to earn their spot and those boys did that. It’s very satisfying and I think it’s important for the area. I think the Tampa Bay Rowdies are important in the area to show that they want to give the best youth players a chance. We’ve only just started with that. It’s going to take a long time to really implement it the way we want.”


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PATO REBUILDS THE ROWDIES

Martin Paterson is a man of intensity. That won’t come as a surprise to anyone who watched the former striker and current Rowdies assistant coach score any of the nine goals he tallied for the Rowdies during the 2017 USL season. That passion extends past just putting the back of the net, though. Paterson, 32, pursues everything he wants to achieve in his career with intense focus. At 21, he earned his UEFA ALicense alongside one of his future coaches in the EFL Championship. ”I always knew I was gonna coach,” Paterson said. “I actually was on the same A License course with Eddie Howe. He was my partner in some of the exercises and sat next to me. Then later, after I completed my course, he was actually my manager at Burnley. I’d done the same badge at the same time as him and yet he’s been a manager for 8-10 years now.” After his lone season with the Rowdies, Paterson joined ATK for a short spell in the Indian Super League. That stint ended around the same time that Paterson’s friend and former Rowdies teammate Neill Collins was hanging his boots up to take on head coaching duties in Tampa Bay. ”The big man obviously got the appointment, which I was delighted for him. And then he asked me to join the coaching staff with him, which also delighted me because I always had a very special affiliation with this football club. I had a great time here as a player and I wanted to help come in and rebuild,” he said. Paterson and Collins became fast friends when playing together and were

roommates for roadtrips in 2017. While they played at opposite ends of the field, both were known for being fierce competitors. ”I think playing in the same era in England, you know a lot of the same people. Just being around the Championship for a long period of time, I’d say we’re of a lot of the same footballing beliefs and life beliefs,” Paterson said of his bond with Collins. “When we both played we were also competitive. A lot people wouldn’t really believe that we’re actually deep thinkers about the game as well. As much as were competitive and aggressive in our competition, we obviously think very deeply about the sport as well. ”Passion isn’t the only thing Paterson brings


BY JAKE NUTTING

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Collins knew he had a massive task ahead of him in his first offseason trying to revitalize the roster and change the culture around the club. So choosing who to add to his technical staff to compliment assistant coaches Stuart Dobson and Cheyne Roberts was a move given serious consideration. ”I’ve got a lot of friends in football. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve met a lot of people that I love spending time with, but not that I’d necessarily want to be my assistant coach because anyone that knows me knows that I want to be successful and I want to win,” Collins said.“Bringing in an assistant is just as important as signing a player because these are the people that are gonna help you make your decisions. I just knew Pato and his passion for the game, which is most important. He got his license at 21, which tells you a lot about a person.”

to the table, though. Like many did with Collins at the time of his appointment, an assumption is made that players with a reputation for showing their passion on the field are not also cerebral about the game. That would be a mistake in the case of both Collins and Paterson. “I think if you see someone like myself play you would see quite an aggressive guy and a guy that is really into the game and intense,” Paterson said. “But I think once you sit down and talk with the manager and myself you’ll see the depths of what we go into in terms of analysis andwhatnot, opposing teams, our own players. Ultimately we’re just hard workers.” Even before the 2017 season was over,

Paterson also offered the unique perspective of an experienced striker. As a former center back, Collins values having Paterson in the room, constantly looking to improve the attack any way possible. ”We share a lot of the same views about football without being identical,” Collins noted. “He comes up with a lot of good points. He played striker, which I think is a nice balance. I’m a what if person. As a defender I’m always wondering what if this goes wrong. He’s on the other end always with the creativity as a striker. I thought he had a real passion. We saw what the Rowdies needed to be the same way. So when the option came to bring him in as a coach, I really thought it was a perfect fit for him and the club. He’s struck up a fantastic relationship with the rest of the backroom staff, Cheyne Roberts and Stuart Dobson.


14 The three of them have been so vitally important in the work we’ve done this offseason, trying to recruit the right players and acting as that go-between between me and the players. ”So far this season every choice in the offseason by Collins and the staff appears to be paying off quite well. The Rowdies sit at the top of the Eastern Conference standings and have yet to drop a match. The hot start to the year has helped settle Paterson into retirement from playing. ”I think it’s always difficult you’re not going to play anymore, but I think when you put so much into the team as the manager does, as I do, you take great satisfaction from results, from points on the board because you’ve worked ever so hard to, first and foremost, recruit I think nearly 18 members into the squad,” Paterson said. “To see the players perform well at the minute, you take a lot from that. So it’s very rewarding. I’m sure we’ll have good and bad days, as we did when I came in with a third of the season left last year. We had some difficult nights and some really down nights, so it’s nice to see this new, young, hungry group performing well.” One thing that’s become clear in Collins era is that there is no place for complacency. Paterson and many of the new faces populating the roster demonstrate the hunger Collins wants to see well. “It can be a lonely job at times when you’re the head coach and these guys make it less lonely because they share the burden well,” Collins said. “Martin’s been really good. He’s always good to discuss things

PATO REBUILDS THE ROWDIES with. He’s just going to get better. Just like all the players, myself, we’re all going to get better. He’s so eager to learn and he’s pretty self-demanding. So he puts a lot of demands on himself, which is great. He leads from the front in that respect.”


McCARTHY GETS HIS SHOT

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MLS first round draft pick and Jamaican international Andre Blake firmly entrenched in the starting position. However, McCarthy made the most of his opportunity when Blake missed time with injury or sat out U.S. Open Cup matches. Between the Union and Steel FC, McCarthy appeared in 47 matches.

John McCarthy could not have entered the professional stage much better than he did with the Rochester Rhinos back in 2014. He earned the USL’s Goalkeeper of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards, as well as a spot on the All-League First Team.

”It’s definitely frustrating. You put the work in every day during the week,” he said. “But your mindset, no matter what, whether I was on a run of games or whether I wasn’t getting any games or whether I got one game, your mindset has to be that you’re playing on the weekend cause you don’t know what could happened in the game. You might just get thrown in and crap your opportunity. So that was the daily mindset. Yeah, it did get frustrating at times, it’s extremely frustrating. But there are times, and I think every pro will agree, that you have bad spells and you’re also frustrated with your bad spells. You kinda have to find the in-between of not getting too high and not getting too low and just trucking along on a daily basis. When you get your chance you just have to make the most of it.”

McCarthy used the buzz from that stellar debut season to ink a deal with his hometown Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer the following year. Since then he has yo-yoed back and forth between the Union and its USL reserve team, Bethlehem Steel FC. After four years of sporadic playing time in Philadelphia, McCarthy was ready to seek out new McCarthy, 26, wanted his shot at the opportunities. top spot at a club. Surprisingly, the netminder says there weren’t many options out there ”My main mindset was trying to play. for him in the offseason.”There weren’t I needed games. At the end of the day all many offers, so I was just happy Tampa Bay I wanted to do was play,” McCarthy said. was willing to just give me a chance. There “Philly and I had a real good talk and they wasn’t really starting opportunities, or really were very understanding about it and any teams giving me a chance to be a everything. Obviously I would’ve loved to backup or something. It is what it is. I was stay in Philly and I think they would want me kinda hoping for something and Tampa there. So we talked on good terms and they Bay gave it to me.” allowed me to go around and look around at other opportunities.” The rest the league and MLS’ loss in passing up a chance at McCarthy has Minutes were hard to come by with been Tampa Bay’s gain.


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McCARTHY GETS HIS SHOT

Rowdies would have lost easily and not With McCarthy in net for every minute continued to carry the momentum of their of every league match so far, the Rowdies current unbeaten streak. are off to their best defensive start of the modern era. Saturday’s 1-0 victory over ”The Louisville game stands out beSwope Park was the club’s league-leading cause he made saves,” Neill Collins said 8th clean sheet through just 12 matches. The of McCarthy. “In other games it’s been Rowdies previously posted 8 total shutouts everything that goes unnoticed for a for the year in 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018. goalkeeper, and that’s the sign of a good This year’s squad only trails the 2012 and goalkeeper. The things that he makes 2017 Rowdies, who posted 11 and 13 clean look simple, textbook. They’re the things sheets respectively in league play. However, that he’sreally excelled at. His presence, it took the team until August 25 to record its communication, his game management. 8th shutout in 2012 and it wasn’t until July 22 We’re delighted for John that he’s come that it had 8 clean sheets in 2017. Even on in and factored so well into the team. I’m the rare occasion that they do allow a goal sure he’ll be the first to tell you the guys in this year, they have yet to give up a second front of him have done a great job and in a match this year. I’m pretty sure the guys will tell you they love having John behind them. John’s got ”I think we’re a really good pressing a great relationship with so many of the team that works as a unit,” McCarthy not- guys on the field and he’s obviously an ed. “Obviously there’s certain spells where integral part of not only why we’ve kept we get caught out of position and stuff like a lot of clean sheets, but why we’ve won that. That happens, but I think as a team, alot of points so far.” pressing, stepping and moving together as a unit is crucial and that’s something that Besides the impressive unbeaten run we bought into. It makes everyone’s job to end the season, McCarthy has gotten easier, to get the ball back earlier and kin- what he wanted when set out for a new da play on your terms. That’s what we’ve challenge. been looking to do. And I think a lot of guys are good at communicating. That’s “I just wanted the opportunity to something I kinda pride myself on. It’s sim- play. I’m grateful for the opportunity Neill ple to do, and it makes it easier for everyand Stuart Dobson and Lee Cohen have body else when you just say something given me down here. They’ve really takor communicate where they could be or en care of me. This seems like one of the should be. I think that goes a long way.” best USL clubs. We’ve got a great group of guys that have bought into the system McCarthy has had a few matchand the idea of what they’ve given us. es where he hasn’t been asked to make You couldn’t have asked for a better start many tough saves. Nonetheless, he has to the season as a team.” risen to the occasion when the Rowdies do give up scoring chances. If not for his seven saves in the 1-1 draw with the reigning USL Cup champion Louisville City FC, the

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