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8 Tampa Bay area standouts new Rowdies signing Cristian Ortiz could emulate

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/17/24, 12:00PM EDT


From senior internationals to impressive pro careers, here are some of the players the 17-year-old is following in the footsteps of

The 2006 MLS Defender of the Year, Tampa, Fla. native Bobby Boswell appeared for the United States Men's National Team and made almost 400 appearances in MLS in his career.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies made club history on Friday with the signing of forward Cristian Ortiz to his first professional contract, making the 17-year-old the first player to graduate to a professional contract with the organization having previously been a USL Academy signing with the First Team.

A Florida Premier academy youth product, Ortiz now has a chance to follow in the path of a collection of professional talent that has come out of the Tampa Bay area over the past 25 years. Here are eight notable names whose accomplishments Ortiz will try to emulate over the course of his career.

Jeff Attinella, Clearwater, Fla.

Jeff Attinella took every step through Tampa Bay’s soccer pathway on the way to making more than 170 professional appearances and backstopping the Portland Timbers to their most MLS Cup appearance in 2018. Attinella competed for the Clearwater Chargers and University of South Florida before signing with the Rowdies to start his professional career and was the hero of Tampa Bay’s penalty shootout victory against the Minnesota Stars to win the 2012 NASL title.

Bobby Boswell, Tampa, Fla.

Another product of the Clearwater Chargers, Bobby Boswell made three senior appearances for the United States Men’s National Team while making almost 400 appearances across the regular season and playoffs in Major League Soccer. Three years ago, he was ranked among the Top 10 center backs in MLS history after a career that saw him win MLS Defender of the Year in 2006, be named to the Best XI in 2006 and 2014 and win the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2006 and 2007 with D.C. United.  

Wes Charpie, Tarpon Springs, Fla.

A current mainstay at Louisville City FC, Wes Charpie has made almost 200 appearances across the USL Championship’s regular season and playoffs since entering the professional ranks from the University of South Florida in 2015. A left back during his college days, Charpie has developed into a reliable – and versatile – defender who has made more than 100 appearances for the Boys in Purple since joining the club prior to the 2020 season.

Darnell King, Tampa, Fla.

Tampa, Fla. native Darnell King lifts the trophy at the 2023 USL Championship Final after captaining Phoenix Rising FC to the title in his final game in the professional ranks. | Photo courtesy Henry Taylor / United Soccer League

While he played his club soccer in South Florida as a youngster, Darnell King was one of the standouts of the Gaither High School program in Tampa where he was a prolific forward for one of the state’s nationally recognized programs. After beginning his professional career with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, King headed home to join the Tampa Bay Rowdies and played three seasons with the club before stints at San Antonio FC and Nashville SC. He capped his career with four seasons at Phoenix Rising FC, where he captained the side to its first USL Championship title a season ago before announcing his retirement in the offseason.

Jeremy Hall, Tampa, Fla.

Jeremy Hall became known as a local prodigy competing for Hillsborough County United and was called up to the United States U-17 Residency Academy as a 14-year-old and was part of the squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup alongside Omar Gonzalez and Jozy Altidore. He went on to make more than 125 appearances in Major League Soccer and 79 appearances for Sacramento Republic FC in the USL Championship professionally and represented Puerto Rico at the senior national team level, serving as captain for the side before his retirement in 2018.

Zac MacMath, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Zac MacMath’s path took him from the Clearwater Chargers to the United States U-17 Residency program to a career in Major League Soccer than now stretches more than decade. The standout goalkeeper was part of the United States’ squad at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2007 that advanced to the Round of 16 and has since made 300 appearances across the regular season and playoffs in Major League Soccer.  

Ben Sweat, Palm Harbor, Fla.

A former Tampa Bay Rowdies player, Ben Sweat used his time at the club for a lengthy career in Major League Soccer and two caps for the United States Men's National Team.

A former standout at the Clearwater Chargers and University of South Florida, Ben Sweat’s breakthrough in the professional ranks came during two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rowdies that set him on the path to a successful career in Major League Soccer and two caps with the United States Men’s National Team. The full back recorded more than 130 appearances in the top-flight across the regular season and playoffs and appeared in a pair of exhibition contests against Peru and Colombia in 2018 before his retirement earlier this year.

Anthony Wallace, Tampa, Fla.

Another Tampa product that competed for the United States U-17 Men’s National Team, the highlight of Anthony Wallace’s professional career came early on as he started for the Colorado Rapids as the side won the 2010 MLS Cup. The left-sided defender made almost 100 appearances in the professional ranks across Major League Soccer and the USL Championship before moving into the coaching ranks.

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