As the Super Y League enters its fourth year running the USL Experience, the excitement and quality of the event has never reached greater heights.
In 2019, USLX heads to Tampa, Florida – which is not only the home of the United Soccer League (USL) but also USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Rowdies are currently competing in their third Championship season.
With previous stops in Cincinnati (FC Cincinnati), San Antonio (San Antonio FC) and Phoenix (Phoenix Rising FC), USLX is set to host another tremendous group of young talent in 2019 as players from all across the United States and Canada travel to Florida for the three-day event.
Now, let’s take some time to get to know this year’s hosts, the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Head coach Neil Collins joined the Rowdies as a player prior to the 2016 season and made 67 appearances for the club as a center back before transitioning to the role of head coach. Collins holds a UEFA A license.
A native of Troon, Scotland, Collins began his playing career for the amateur Glasgow club Queen’s Park in 2001. As he progressed into the professional ranks, Collins signed with Dumbarton in 2002 became moving to England to sign with Sunderland in 2004.
While with Sunderland, Collins had loan spells with Hartlepool United, Sheffield United and Wolves. He joined Wolves on a permanent basis in 2007 and later joined Preston North End on a permanent deal after a loan spell there.
From Preston North End, Collins signed with Leeds United in 2010 after another successful loan spell. Collins signed with Sheffield United in 2011 and would spend five seasons there, making nearly 200 appearances for the Blades with a short loan to Port Vale.
From Sheffield United, Collins made the jump to the United States by signing with the Rowdies. His professional career spanned 598 competitive matches
The Rowdies play all of their home matches at Al Lang Stadium, which is located on Saint Petersburg, Florida waterfront and situated roughly 20 minutes away from Tampa. The venue holds a capacity of 7,227 supporters and is operated by Big3 Entertainment Group.
The Rowdies played their first match at Al Lang Stadium back in 2011, and are currently entering their third season in the USL Championship. On March 25, 2017, the Rowdies set their single-game attendance record when over 7,700 fans packed into Al Lang Stadium for the team’s 1-0 win over Orlando City B.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies are currently owned and operated by Major League Baseball team Tampa Bay Rays, which is led by principal shareholder Stuart Sternberg. The Rowdies were purchased from previous owner Bill Edwards, who owned the team for nearly five years, on October 2, 2018. The Rowdies are entering their third season in the USL Championship, after joining the league in 2016.The USL Championship side’s primary sponsor on all of its jerseys is Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino