Earlier, Matilda reported that Bolton had added another friendly date with another American side. We now have a date for the match and it will take place on July 14.
The Tampa Bay team, that originally existed as the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the original North American Soccer League from 1975 to 1984 was reborn alongside the NASL in 2010. FC Tampa Bay have no previous experience against Premier League sides. The friendly will be the first leg of Bolton’s American tour before continuing on to Orlando, and finally Texas to face the Houston Dynamo in a near mirror of last season’s American tour where they faced two lower league sides before finishing against an MLS squad.
FC Tampa Bay play at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. Al Lang is a 7,000 seat repurposed baseball field which is also home to the Dutch and Canadian national baseball teams for spring training. FC Tampa Bay is the only current full time resident.
But wait, there’s already a connection between Bolton Wanderers and soccer in Tampa Bay! The connection started in the 1980’s, that whole decade of nothing but DayGlo and Miami Vice, none of which Mattie and I remember because of that whole not being born yet thing (I was born in 1989 and Mattie is younger). Big Sam Allardyce played one season in the green and gold in 1983 where he made 11 appearances and scored one goal.
The Tampa Bay players, staff, ownership, and fans are all very excited about the match and are aching to prove themselves on the pitch. In the league’s press release were some quotes from the BWFC side of the equation:
Owen Coyle: "We are all looking forward to the game at Al Lang Stadium and we know that coming up against FC Tampa Bay for our first game in our preseason schedule will be a good test for us. The conditions and the climate are tough going so our players will really have to work hard – games like this will help to prepare us for our season ahead."
Super Kevin Davies: “It is always good to get a testing set of games in preseason and I am looking forward to our match against FC Tampa Bay. We played in the States last year on preseason and the facilities and American fans are first-class.”
Stu Holden: “I have told the guys all about FC Tampa Bay and how their fans love their soccer and their team. We know that it will be a demanding game and that we are set for a tough match, but I am sure that the lads will receive a really warm welcome from the Tampa Bay fans.”