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Rowdies’ Schäfer Sizing Up Opportunities

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/05/17, 9:29PM EDT


Long-range strike provided memorable moment in first meeting with Cincinnati

Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – When the Tampa Bay Rowdies and FC Cincinnati first met earlier this season at Nippert Stadium, there was one moment above all that stood out.

Rowdies midfielder Marcel Schäfer’s long-range blast in the first half remains one of the most memorable moments of the 2017 USL regular season, at once silencing the Nippert Stadium crowd, and gaining national attention as the No. 2 play on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 that night.

“Yeah, it was really, really good,” Schäfer told Mike Watts on Monday’s edition of USL Coast 2 Coast on Sirius XM FC. “I think the crowd there in Cincinnati speaks for itself, sometimes over 30,000 I think in the U.S. Open Cup against Chicago, it is amazing for [Cincinnati] and the crowd was really special, fantastic atmosphere, and then a second after the goal it was silence, nobody speak, it was ‘wow’.

“It was a really good feeling, and I have a similar goal in Germany when I played in Dortmund in front of 80,000 people, so it was really similar, not only against the best crowd in Germany in Dortmund, but when you scored it was really a few seconds, nobody speaks, nobody shouts, that’s a really special thing.”

The former VfL Wolfsburg player has made a big impression in his first season in Tampa Bay, with his goal against Cincinnati the biggest highlight in a consistent season in both the center of midfield and at fullback. With the rematch on Thursday night against FCC set to be broadcast on ESPNU as the USL Game of the Week (8 p.m. ET | Preview), the Rowdies are aiming to end a seven-game winless streak, and get the home fans on their feet at Al Lang Stadium.

With the Rowdies still firmly in the USL Eastern Conference playoff picture, the long-term goal for the side remains a championship. A win against Cincinnati on Thursday night would be a very welcome fillip to that end goal.

“When you start off the season, when you’re a soccer player, you want to have the maximum, you want to reach the maximum and the maximum is the championship,” Schafer told Watts. “If it happens, we will see, there are many points that we have to play out, but I think this game is really, really important for us.

“You have to win every home game, home games are very important. We have the home advantage, we have the support of our great fans, so we have to win this game and take the three points to get a better position in the standings.”

To hear more from Schafer, and a full-length interview with FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch, check out the full edition of USL Coast 2 Coast on the Sirius XM app.

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