TAMPA – It’s hard to wipe the smile off Pascal Milien’s face at the best of times, but there was no chance of it happening as he was one of three players introduced by FC Tampa Bay Rowdies at Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday afternoon.
For the University of Tampa All-American, the opportunity to stay in Tampa to begin his professional career was one that left him overjoyed.
“I can’t ask for better,” Milien said. “This is a dream come true for me after all these years I’ve been pushing myself since high school, through college, thank God I finally have a chance to play in my hometown.”
Milien was joined by Jesuit graduate Joe Donoho, who had a stellar college career at Rutgers and Bradley. The Tampa native grew up a New York Yankees fan, and was looking forward to playing on the same field he had attended spring training games at growing up.
“It’s awesome,” Donoho said. “To be here to get a chance to do this, it really is a blessing.”
While the Rowdies said since the beginning of their search for players that they wanted to try and sign players with ties to the Tampa Bay area, Owner and President Andrew Nestor said that the main reason why the club had targeted Milien and Donoho was because of their playing ability.
“You always want to have local players,” Nestor said. “It helps the fan base, it helps develop future talent because local kids have something to look up to, but at the same time they have to be quality, and I think we’re pretty lucky to be in a market where you have local talent that is truly good enough to play at this level, and these two guys have shown that.”
Donoho and the third player introduced on Wednesday, Yendry Diaz, could make a strong central defensive pairing for the team in its inaugural season. Head coach Paul Dalglish said he couldn’t wait to see what his new players would be able to accomplish in the upcoming season.
“We’ve worked tirelessly to bring in the best players,” Dalglish said. “We’ve had a lot of combines to try and find talent, and three of the guys you saw today have been at the top of the pile when it comes to the talent we’ve been looking for. As some of the names you’ve seen, and some of the names you’ll hear about in the future are going to be very exciting names as well, and there’s going to be a lot of disappointed people who wanted to play in Tampa, but that’s a good thing for us because it means the standard is very high.”