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NASL Notes: Rowdies embracing close-knit atmosphere; Silverbacks continue to add to roster; and more



The Tampa Bay Rowdies have only been together as a group for a matter of days, but head coach Thomas Rongen insists that the team is behaving as if they’ve been with one another all along.

Rongen is ecstatic with how quickly his team has bonded, as the recently hired coach says that the group has already developed a family atmosphere. Rongen says that the group has already become an “extension of the coaching staff” as the players have taken to bonding over catered team lunches and a revamped stadium and locker room.

“I’ve given the leaders the freedom to lead. I’ve allowed the young players to be young and naive and bring energy every day, which is great,” Rongen told SBI. “I’ve encouraged our leaders to embrace our young players and be role models and it’s almost like every player has decided to take care of one positional player who is a bit younger. The respect of the younger players toward the older players is phenomenal as well.

“Those are the essential starting points to be successful. We established this early on about a locker room culture and ethic that really allows us to take the field with a real family atmosphere…The guys come in early and stay late and they really enjoy being around themselves. They take great pride in doing things right, and that’s nice because a group that polices themselves in a good way is always a great plus for a head coach.”

Here are some more news and notes from around NASL:


Slowly but surely, Gary Smith and the Atlanta Silverbacks are constructing a roster. With five signings in the last nine days, Smith is starting to enjoy the makeup of his roster, although the head coach insists that there is plenty of work to be done.

The Silverbacks have added English imports Paul Black and Simon Mensing, USL Pro standouts Jonathan Okafor and Kyle Miller, as well as NASL veteran Dominic Oppong. With the additions, Smith is starting to get more and more comfortable with his roster, but remains wary of placing too much faith in his team without seeing it function on the field.

“The only thing is, as every coach will tell you, this is all on paper. On paper, it looks great,” Smith told SBI. “We’re feeling that we’re moving in a very positive direction, but trying to bring those players to life and trying to create a good team spirit and rapport when you’re adding 15 new players is not an easy task and that will be the next step.

“Once the guys get into their preseason and they’re on the ground and they’re working, I’ll have a much, much better idea of where and when we’re moving, but at the moment, I’m really pleased. We haven’t rushed, we haven’t overpaid, we haven’t jumped into anybody that I’ve panicked about.”

Although roster construction has gone well, Smith still has plenty of room to add. In need of at least a few more players, Smith, who specified that there is a player in England on the club’s wish list, has his eye on targets, but is looking to keep his squad tight.

“We’re on our way to where we want to be. We’re going to have a tighter group this year, maybe 18 or 20 players, for a couple of different reasons, but I want to try and keep the group competitive. I want the players to see that there is an opportunity to be on the field and compete for positions on the field. We’re halfway there.”


The popular saying goes that birds fly south for the winter, and it appears that the Loons of Minnesota United are following suit with a trip to Brazil.

Minnesota United announced the club’s preseason plans Thursday, headlined by a March trip south to Brazil. The team will kick off the preseason by traveling to Arizona for a trio of friendlies against the Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC and an unnamed opponent before heading further south to the country that hosted the 2014 World Cup.

Friendlies for the team’s 12-day stay in Brazil are yet to be determined.

“Preseason is a process for us to get ready for the season,” said head coach Manny Lagos. “Last year we had a good buildup in England and this year will be no different. The England trip certainly added to the camaraderie of the team that you can’t necessarily put a real value on, but there was something necessary about building those relationships in the roster. That trip helped build a lot of team unity that helped us throughout the season. That’s why we wanted to do something similar this preseason in Brazil.”


The New York Cosmos’ busy preseason will take the team to Hong Kong and El Salvador, but the club has added yet another long-distance destination to the preseason schedule.

The Cosmos announced Monday that the club will travel to California for a pair of friendlies. The team will take on the Ventura County Fusion on Feb. 25 before facing Sacramento Republic FC on Feb. 28.

“I’m looking forward to visiting the West Coast,” said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese. “With New York weather the way it is this time of year, it’s going to be a good trip for the squad to face some quality opposition and train in the warmer climate.”

The Cosmos will take on the South China Football Team in Hong Kong on Feb. 19 ahead of the West Coast trip. The team will then travel to El Salvador to take on CD FAS on March 14.


After spending time abroad in the Indian Super League, defender Colin Falvey is set to embark on a new challenge in the NASL.

Ottawa Fury FC announced Thursday that the club has signed the Irish defender, who previously featured for the Charleston Battery in the USL Pro. The USL Pro Defender of the Year in 2013, Falvey most recently played for the ISL’s Kerala Blasters during a campaign that saw the club reach the ISL Championship Final.

“Colin brings experience and leadership that will help our back line,” Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos said. “He has the mentality and aggressiveness we wanted to add to our back four and will bring a lot of competition inside our squad.”


Midfielder Justin Chavez is the latest player to cross the NASL Florida line.

The Rowdies announced Thursday that the club has signed the midfielder, who most recently played for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Chavez, who can also play center back, made 27 appearances in two seasons with the Strikers.

“With the signing of Chavez, we have more bite to our midfield,” Rongen said. “He is also a versatile young player who gives us depth on our roster.”


What do you think of these notes? Do you like the additions made by the Rowdies? What do you think of the Silverbacks’ new signings?

Share your thoughts below.


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