On the eve of the Tampa Bay Rowdies final player combine, which begins at the Ed Radice Sports Complex on Tuesday, Rowdies manager Paul Dalglish took a moment to talk about what his experience had been like so far and some of the players the Rowdies were bringing in for the three-day camp, and what he expected to see in the upcoming days.
TBSB: What was your reaction to the disagreement between the USL and NASL being resolved, and the course being set as to when opening day will be?
Paul Dalglish: It was a big relief for everyone that the league situation got sorted out, and I just think everybody’s happy that there was a solution that everyone was happy with, and we’re going to play some football this year. It wouldn’t be nice to think of there being no second tier of football in the United States.
TBSB: Is there anything that has surprised you about becoming a full-time manager?
Dalglish: No, not really. It’s been really hard work, simply because we’re a brand new franchise and obviously all the hard work that had to go in to get the league up and running. Then if you add on to that that we didn’t have any players when we came in, and we have to find a whole squad of players in a short space of time, it’s been very hard work and Andrew (Nestor), Perry (Van Der Beck) and myself have been working tirelessly to give the people in Tampa the very, very best team we can to watch in the upcoming season. I wouldn’t say anything’s surprised me yet, but it’s certainly been hard work.
TBSB: You’re not at liberty to discuss anyone that is either on the verge of being signed, or has been signed already, but is it exciting to have gotten that process underway and know who some of the members of your squad are going to be for the upcoming season?
Dalglish: Yeah, obviously I can’t wait until the official press conference to announce some names, but it is pretty exciting. Going after a recognizable player, going after them and finally getting them, so it’s a really exciting process but it’s also quite complicated when you don’t have any players. You’re looking at players to play with certain players, and then if you don’t get one of those players then you’ve got to change your opinion on the second player, and the picture changes every day. One day someone is available, the next day they’re not, and then you get further down the line negotiating with someone, and then someone else becomes available who may be a better fit for your organization than the person you were originally interested in, so it’s very complex when you’ve got a whole squad to pick, but I’m sure the supporters will be very happy with some of the names we’ve acquired when we announce them.
TBSB: You’ve got 44 players coming in (Tuesday). Of the list, are there any names you can point out that you’re interested to see up close?
Dalglish: We’ve got some senior internationals coming in. We’ve got a player coming in, he’s flown himself in from Japan, called Takuya Yamada. He’s got four caps for the Japanese national team, he’s a veteran player, a veteran of the J-League, but the fact that he’s willing to fly himself to come to our tryouts shows not just the interest in America, but also the interest worldwide in the Rowdies and the desire to come and play for us. Couple of other noticable names, we’ve got (former South Florida standout) Kareem Smith, who went to college in Florida and has five caps for the senior team with Trinidad, and we’ve got some of the guys from UT, Ryan Maxwell, who was drafted last year by the New England Revolution, Ryan Thompson the goalkeeper and Dan Ingvarsson the center back.