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Rowdies sign another goalkeeper as first USL season approaches

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies gave goalkeeper Matt Pickens a little help Friday afternoon.

The Rowdies signed Jamaican goalkeeper Nico Campbell, 22, who played at Valparaiso University. Campbell completed a trial with the Rowdies in the fall, including seeing action against VfL Wolfsburg and Atletico Mineiro.

“I think the first thing you notice about Nico is his size,” Rowdies’ coach Stuart Campbell said.

“At 6-foot-4, he’s got the height and wingspan you look for in a goalie, but he’s also very smooth in his movement, which is a great combination. We liked what we saw from Nico during the Florida Cup, and we’re excited to have signed him.”

Despite his age and lack of professional experience, Campbell brings a strong resume to Tampa Bay.

While playing for the Des Moines Menace in the USL PDL, Campbell was one of three finalists for PDL Goalkeeper of the Year. Under his leadership with a 0.44 goals-against-average per 90 minutes, the Menace conceded the fewest regular season goals in the league.

As a junior at Valpo, Campbell was named the Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year and a first-team All-Conference player. He was named to the Horizon League second team as a senior in 2016.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Campbell played at the youth international level for the Reggae Boyz, starting two matches for Jamaica in the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico.

The Rowdies are set to embark on their first USL season next month. Matches for the Suncoast Classic begin Feb. 18.

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.

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