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Tampa Bay Rowdies retain midfielder Justin Chavez for 2016 season

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Tampa Bay Rowdies midfielder Justin Chavez will be back under the Al Lang Stadium lights in 2016, the team announced Thursday.

Chavez, who was described by the team as one of its “hardest working” and “most versatile players in 2015,” signed a one-year contract with the club, joining goalkeeper Chris Glodack and midfielders Jeff Michaud, Verneri Välimaa, and Juan Guerra, who also signed one-year deals for the 2016 season.

Although a natural midfielder, Chavez played in each back line spot last season, often switching up midmatch to keep the opposition on its toes.

In total, he made 15 appearances in 2015, including seven starts, tallying 659 minutes.

“Day in and day out, he comes in and gives 100 percent,” said Tampa Bay Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell. “He keeps his head down. There’s never any moaning or groaning about playing time. He just gives everything he has every single day.

“He had to wait very patiently last season to get his opportunity to play, but when he did, he did really well,” Campbell said. “His versatility is also huge for us. He deserves to be back with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.”

Toward the end of last season Chavez really got hot. He started each of the last five matches in 2015. Throughout that five-game stint, the team conceded less than one goal per game, well below its season average.

“I’m so excited to be continuing with the Tampa Bay Rowdies,” Chavez said. “I love Stuart Campbell and what he’s doing, and I’m glad to be a part of this organization again. I’m trying to build on how I finished last season. I’m a versatile player, and I’ll be wherever Stuart needs me.”

The Rowdies 2016 season starts in April.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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