The Rowdies began preseason training with 11 new faces that were brought on board for the preseason as trialists. These players received an invitation to train with the club in the preseason, where they will have a chance to demonstrate that they deserve a place in the squad.
One of the highlights is Turkish forward Sercan Guvenisik, joining from the San Jose Earthquakes. His international matches with Turkey’s U-17 and U-21 squad earned him a spot in the MLS, making him the first Turkish player to sign in that league. The forward is currently recovering from an injury he sustained prior to preseason, but will be out on the pitch training as soon as he has recovered.
American forward Jemal Johnson previously played in the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers, where he started out in their academy at the age of 16. After two years with Blackburn, he went on to suit up for English teams such as Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leeds United and Milton Keynes Dons. Joining him is forward Devin Del Do, who enters preseason training after three successful years with the Minnesota Stars FC. The California native offers speed and skill in attack, while also having knowledge of the North American Soccer League. The fourth forward is Florida Southern College graduate Zak Hofstetter, who in 2011 led the Sunshine State Conference with 44 points. His 17 goals were second in the SSC, and his 10 assists were the best total in the SSC for the second year in a row.
In the midfield, Tampa Bay has brought on JC Mack, who is an attacking midfielder and a recent USL Pro champion with the Charleston Battery. The second midfielder, Frank Tweneboa, has recently played for PDL’s Ocean City Nor’easters and Reading United’s U20, where he was named to the USL Super 20 All-Tournament Team.
At the right back position, former Arsenal FC youngster Anton Blackwood joined the Gunner’s youth system in 2007. He was a member of the youth team, which won the Premier Academy League and the FA Youth Cup. The speedster signed a one-year contract with Tottenham Hotspur in 2009, while recently making his international debut for Antigua and Barbuda in February of 2012 in a friendly match against Trinidad & Tobago. The Rowdies have also brought back defender Thurstan Johnson, who played with the Rowdies during the 2012 season. The right back is a local product from St. Petersburg and played collegiately at Saint Leo University. The third defender on trial is Kyle Clinton from Safety Harbor, Fla. The Francis Marion University standout is a product of Global Premier Soccer’s Portland Phoenix of the Premier Development League.
Goalkeeper Sanel Boric is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, although he completed his high school at King High School in Tampa. After a year at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Boric moved his career overseas where he played for two clubs in the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other goalkeeper on trial is Tampa native Will Dieterich, who has trained with Global Premier Soccer’s Portland Phoenix as well.
Tampa Bay will begin their preseason against DC United on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. The Rowdies will then play their second group match against Montreal Impact on Wednesday, February 13, while playing their last group match against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, February 16. All games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. All of the matches in Orlando will be broadcasted live on mlssoccer.com.
The Rowdies will also take part in the I-4 Derby against Orlando City SC. The matches will be held on March 9th at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando and on March 30th at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg. Fans can purchase their tickets for the second leg of the I-4 Derby by clicking here, or by contacting the front office at 813-287-1539 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets for the first match in Orlando can be purchased now by calling (855) ORL-CITY. The 11 trialists will be available for all preseason matches, including the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic & I-4 Derby.
Devin Del Do
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