TAMPA — As the Tampa Bay Rowdies end their inaugural campaign in the USSF Division 2 league and look to rebuild for the future, the only thing concrete about the team's next coach is it won't be interim coach Perry Van Der Beck.
When the Rowdies fired Paul Dalglish on Sept. 23, a day before their 3-1 home loss to Minnesota, Van Der Beck, an original Rowdies player and assistant coach, took over for the final two games. But Van Der Beck, also the team's vice president, technical director and personnel director, said Wednesday he won't be on the sideline next year.
"I'm the interim coach," he said. "I have no interest in coaching next year. They asked me to coach the last two games, and I said I would. … You will not see me on the bench next year."
The Rowdies (6-12-11, 29 points) are 0-5-6 in their past 11 games, have won just one game since May 29 and could finish as low as 11th in the 12-team league if they lose to last-place Baltimore in Friday's season finale.
Tampa Bay's unceremonious release of Dalglish before their first season ended made a clear statement: The Rowdies expected to win in Year 1.
"I think one of the reasons the move was made was to say we won't tolerate mediocrity," Van Der Beck said. "We want to be at the top."
Van Der Beck said the organization will look for someone with professional coaching experience who knows the teams and players in the Division 2 league.
"He's got to be a good recruiter, have good contacts with colleges, he's got to know the players in the league," Van Der Beck said. "Some of the guys in the MLS, they bring in the top coaches in the world, but they don't know the system or the players or the culture. It's not Europe. In America, it's a little different culture.
"I'm not saying we wouldn't have someone internationally, but you'd have to have an assistant coach who would know the landscape of everybody else. We have to have a balance there. The door is wide open."
RAISING THE BAR: Many younger players still will be playing for their jobs Friday. The team holds options on several, and the Baltimore game will serve as a final glimpse into who will remain to be part of the core of the team.
"Being a first-year team, we obviously have some players who haven't played at this level before," Van Der Beck said. "The young players we have, they're talented, and they can play at this level, but I'm not so sure with the schedule we played, 30 games, they were used to that. We've got to push it up a notch. That's what's important for these guys to know — next year, this is the standard, and we've got to raise the bar."
KICKS IN THE GRASS: The Rowdies have been outscored 10-2 in four games this month. … The first 1,500 fans 14 and younger at Friday's game will receive free Silly Bandz. … There will be a ceremony to retire Van Der Beck's jersey before the game.