The NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies signaled their intent to win the Fall Season and bolstered their roster Friday with the additions of Argentinian striker Luciano Olguín and Malawi-born English defender Tamika Mkandawire, pending league approval and international clearances.
Olguín, 32, has played for clubs around the world, including in his native Argentina, Belgium, Greece and China. The Rowdies are his first North American team. Mkandawire, 31, has played his entire career in the English system.
“I’m really happy to sign a contract with the Rowdies,” Olguín said. “I hope I can help the team. I really like the city and the structure of the club. Hopefully, we’ll get good results in the league and I’ll do my best to help the Rowdies win games.”
Standing 6-foot-2 and born in Coronel Vidal, Argentina, Olguín cuts an intimidating figure on the front line. He began his professional career with briefs stints at Racing Club in the capital city of Buenos Aires and San Martin before moving to Belgium.
"We are excited to add Luciano to our roster for a number of reasons,” Rowdies general manager Perry Van Der Beck said. “Having played at a high level internationally as a target forward, Luciano is a proven scorer and is capable of being an impact player. He provides us with more options up top and we are looking forward to seeing how Luciano contributes to our success on the field."
In Belgium, Olguín made 54 appearances and scored 18 goals for one of the country’s biggest sides, Royal Antwerp. From there, he moved to KSK Beveren before a move to Greek club Pierikos. Following that, Olguín moved to China to play with Tianjin Teda and Hohhot Dongjin before brief stints in Azerbaijan with Khazar Lankaran and Argentina with Amirante Brown.
Olguín will wear the No. 35 jersey for the Rowdies.
Mkandawire, 6-foot-1, arrives after captaining Shrewsbury Town last season. He will wear the No. 27 jersey.
“Tamika is an experienced central defender who has played at a high level in the UK,” Van Der Beck said. “This signing was important for us as it addressed an important priority, leadership in the back. Tamika brings the experience and leadership that will be pivotal in organizing the defense."
He has previously played for Hereford United, Leyton Orient, Millwall and Southend United, as well as the England C team. A centerback by nature, Mkandawire provides great depth and experience to a position of need for the Rowdies.
“I’m very excited to join the Tampa Bay Rowdies and I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping the team climb up the league table,” Mkandawire said. “I know the Club has a massive history and I’ve been doing my research. I’m here to help the team in any way I can.”
The additions of Olguin and Mkandawire better position the Rowdies for a run to The Championship, and, ultimately, a berth in the Soccer Bowl.
"We intend to win the Fall season and these signings are a great step in achieving that ambition,” Rowdies owner Bill Edwards said. “The plan for us is simple, win the Fall season and get into The Championship. Luciano and Tamika are big, physical players with great international pedigrees that will fit well into Ricky Hill's system."
The Rowdies also announce that the club and midfielder Christophe Lallet have mutually agreed to terminate Lallet’s contract.