The Tampa Bay Rowdies took another step forward toward the 2010 season as they hosted their first invitation only combines in Tampa, FL. Spectators had the chance to see the first batch of Rowdies hopefuls, as 44 players were invited out to the Ed Radice Sports Complex for a three day try-out Oct.27th through the 29th. Rowdies Technical Director, Perry Van Der Beck, and Owner and President Andrew Nestor assessed the players with the aide of many former professionals from the NASL and MLS.
The players came from far and wide, representing 4 continents, for a chance at playing for the Rowdies. The invitees all have played at a high level including national teams, MLS and USL teams. Seven familiar faces to the Tampa Bay area were on the pitch as well, including former MLS first round draft picks USF alum Jordan Seabrook, and UT alum Ryan Maxwell.
“Forty players plus four goalkeepers were invited,” Van Der Beck remarked. “I wanted to get a look at some of the local players, players that had played in the USL Div 1 or comparable to it and also some international players.”
The players were put through five separate training sessions during the combine. “The first morning on Tuesday we did some Technical work and then about a half hour of Possession, then finished up with some shooting on the keepers. Tuesday night we played 11v11 with 30 min. halves,” Van Der Beck recalled. “Wednesday morning we ran a few drills and played 7v7 with keepers for 35 min. That night we played 11v11 again and it was a good level. On Thursday morning we played 2 games, 30 min halves.”
The Florida weather played an interesting role throughout the combine as players were put through morning skills sessions in record highs and eight full matches that included a lightning storm. The heat took its toll on some players not familiar with this climate, but they battled through for their chance to showoff their skills. “The heat and humidity was an issue and we knew going in that most would not be match fit. But it’s all about opportunity,” said Van Der Beck. “The longer the players can stay on the field the more opportunity I have to evaluate for our 2010 team.”
The invitees all fought for a chance to shine and impress Rowdies staff and scouts. “I’m very pleased with the quality of players that we had at our first combine. It’s not easy for players to come in on short notice, be in match shape and perform well over a 3-day period, alongside players they don’t know,” said Nestor. “You can start to see character come through when you’re asking these players to train for two mornings and play three games in three days with the heat and rain mixed in.”
Van Der Beck was also impressed with the performance out on the pitch, “overall the tryout was competitive. I saw a couple of players that in my opinion can play at the next level. I will submit their names to the head coach and we will have to make some decisions down the road.”
For the 2010 inaugural season, the Rowdies’ roster will consist of twenty-two players, which can include as many as seven international players. The Rowdies will be holding the next combine in London during November and have plans for two more combines, including another in Tampa. In addition to the combines, the Rowdies will also be evaluating free agents from the MLS and USL to form the roster.