Rowdies play exhibition vs. USF as their preseason continues

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On their way to England, the Tampa Bay Rowdies will stop by for a little higher learning.

Tampa Bay plays its fourth exhibition game tonight against the USF Bulls.

For the Rowdies, the game will be a break from the MLS schedule the team has started the preseason against. Tampa Bay has lost to DC United 1-0, Philadelphia 2-0 and tied Montreal 0-0 in its three scoreless games. For the Rowdies, the defense and goaltending has been sharp, but the team still needs to close on its rushes.

“The goals will come,” coach Stuart Campbell has said. And perhaps, as the Rowdies enter their regular season, they will.

Next, however, comes the team’s three-game swing where it will play Nottingham Forest, Notts County and Stoke City.

This match will mark a homecoming for former USF star Ben Sweat, entering his second season with the Rowdies. Sweat, from nearby Palm Harbor, played four seasons for the Bulls and was drafted 14th overall in the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

USF, coached by George Kiefer, went 11-3-6 (W-T-L) last season, finishing second in the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls lost 2-1 in overtime to Boston College in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 2015 marked USF’s eighth NCAA tournament berth in the last nine years, including two appearances in the Elite Eight and three trips to the Sweet Sixteen.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.