By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Times Staff Writer
TAMPA — After a recent skid that has FC Tampa Bay clinging to a spot among the top eight teams that will make the USSF Division 2 postseason, the Rowdies on Tuesday made a trade they hopes will help bolster a struggling offense.
The Rowdies, 0-5-2 in their past seven, acquired veteran midfielders Jonny Steele and Ricardo Sanchez from the Vancouver Whitecaps for future considerations.
"Steele and Sanchez are both proven playmakers in the league and add leadership and offensive firepower," Rowdies president Andrew Nestor said in a news release. "Despite several recent injuries to starters on our team, we are in position for a title run and the acquisition of these players will help support that effort."
Both players came off the bench for the Whitecaps, who own the league's second-best record at 7-2-8 (29 points).
Steele, 24, joined Vancouver in the offseason after spending two years with the Puerto Rico Islanders. In 2008, the Northern Ireland native was named the USL-1 Most Valuable Player and was a key part of an Islanders team that won that season's Commissioner's Cup for having the best regular-season record. He has played 12 games this season.
Sanchez, 28, a former captain on the Mexico U-17 national team, scored 17 goals in two seasons with the Minnesota Thunder of the USL First Division in 2008 and '09. He has scored one goal this season in 454 minutes of action in 13 games.
The Rowdies (5-6-5, 20 points) are missing four injured starters and have scored two goals in their past seven games. They have the seventh-most points in the league.
Tampa Bay hopes to have both players available Thursday, when it plays the second game of its season-long four-match homestand against Rochester. The Rowdies then face Miami on Sunday afternoon.