TAMPA — Tampa Bay Rowdies midfielder Jeremy Christie will be playing in this summer's World Cup in South Africa as a member of New Zealand's national team.
Christie was named to the team Sunday.
"The ultimate goal for any footballer is to play in the World Cup," Christie said on the team's Web site. "I'm a very proud New Zealander and I can't wait to represent my country on football's biggest stage."
Christie, who scored Tampa Bay's tying goal on a penalty kick to earn a 2-2 draw in the home opener Saturday, was the first player the organization signed.
The 23-player New Zealand team, known internationally as the All Whites, will be making its first World Cup appearance since 1982. In South Africa, they will compete in Group F, which also includes Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay.
Christie has made 20 caps on the New Zealand national team dating to 2005.
The Rowdies will lose Christie's flexibility — he can play midfield and defender — and his experience after Friday's game at Carolina. The New Zealand team will assemble in Australia on May 19 in preparation for a match against Australia next week, then travel to Austria to play Serbia and Slovakia before heading to South Africa.
New Zealand's first World Cup game is June 20 against Slovakia.
"We are thrilled that Jeremy has been named to New Zealand's team," owner and president Andrew Nestor on the team's Web site. "He's a top-notch player and an excellent person who deserves this honor. We are proud to have a player of his caliber on our team. It's a big loss to our lineup for a few weeks but it's a credit to the Rowdies and to Jeremy."