ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced on Tuesday that defender David Najem, midfielders Leo Fernandes and Dominic Oduro and forward Sebastian Guenzatti would return to the clb for the 2019 USL Championship season.
Additionally, the club announced it would announce its first new signings of the offseason on Wednesday, while leaving the door open for other players that featured in the 2018 season to return for the new campaign.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have these players returning to the club,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “The fans know the technical ability they bring, but additionally, the character and personality of this group is important for me. Their commitment to being here and being a part of something new is exciting. They bring a level of continuity for us, and I look forward to meshing their skillset with their new teammates to elevate everyone with added competition.”
Najem, 26, signed with the Rowdies last season and won the starting right back position in preseason camp. He started the year in great form before having his season cut short by a knee injury in April. Najem has recovered from that injury and is expected to open preseason camp in full health.
Fernandes, also 26, has played each of the last two seasons in Tampa Bay after joining from the Philadelphia Union. He scored three goals and had three assists in 28 matches in 2018 as a left winger and wingback.
Oduro, 23, signed with the Rowdies last summer from USL League Two’s FC Golden State Force and made an immediate impact in his jump to the professional ranks. He scored a 90th minute equalizer in his Tampa Bay debut and went on to play in 18 of the Rowdies subsequent 20 matches, including a streak of 14 matches in which he played every minute.
Guenzatti, 27, will return for his third season in Tampa Bay after finishing 2018 as the Rowdies’ third-leading scorer with five goals. All five of his finishes came in the final two months of the season. He scored the second hat trick in modern Rowdies history in a 3-0 win over North Carolina FC in September.