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Rowdies to welcome a world of competition in next year’s Florida Cup

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The world is coming to St. Petersburg.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced Tuesday that Al Lang Stadium will be a host site during next year’s Florida Cup, a tournament that will host teams from Brazil, Argentina, Germany and the U.S. Other teams, including more Brazilian, American and Asian teams, are yet to be announced.

The tournament will be held Jan. 7-21 under two formats. One will be teams competing for points for their host countries. The second will feature an individual championship.

The number of teams has yet to be finalized, but it could be as many as 14. Several venues are possible, although the Rowdies and Central Florida are assured.

“I think it means so much,” said Rowdies’ owner Bill Edwards. “You’re talking about another level of soccer we haven’t seen in this city yet. This is a level all over the world. It’s finally coming to the U.S. and it’s going to grow. They’re way ahead of us.”

Can the Rowdies catch up by next year?

“I think I have worldwide players playing for me,” Edwards said. “I think I have a great team. I think they’ll hold their own.”

The Rowdies were announced Tuesday along with Wolfsburg of Germany and Club Atlético River Plate of Argentina.

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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