TAMPA — After a skid that has them clinging to a playoff spot, the Rowdies made a trade Tuesday they hope bolsters a struggling offense.
The Rowdies, 0-5-2 in their past seven games, acquired veteran Ms Jonny Steele and Ricardo Sanchez from Vancouver for future considerations.
Both players came off the bench for the Whitecaps, who own the league's second-best record at 7-2-8 (29 points). Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish said they bring experience and firepower to an injury-depleted lineup.
"They're two of the best in this league, in my opinion, when used," Dalglish said. "They weren't used in Vancouver in their favored positions. … We have the chance to play them in their favored positions and get the results out of them that they had in previous seasons."
The Rowdies are missing four starters to injuries and have scored two goals in their past seven games. With 14 games left, their 20 points (5-6-5) are tied for seventh with Montreal, one more than Puerto Rico and Baltimore, who are tied for ninth. The top eight make the playoffs.
Steele, 24, joined Vancouver in the offseason after spending two years with Puerto Rico. In 2008, the Northern Ireland native was named the USL-1 most valuable player and was a key part of an Islanders team that had the best regular-season record. He has played 12 games this season.
Sanchez, 28, a former captain of Mexico's under-17 national team, scored 17 goals while with Minnesota in 2008 and '09. This season, he has one goal in 13 games.
Steele, who Dalglish indicated will play free behind the forwards in the Rowdies' attack, practiced Wednesday night and will be available for tonight's home match with Rochester.
Sanchez, a more traditional midfielder whom the Rowdies will play the ball through to ignite the offense, is still in Vancouver and should make his debut Sunday against Miami at Steinbrenner Field.
Both also are dangerous when taking free kicks.
"I think every team in the league would take Jonny Steele and Ricardo Sanchez," Dalglish said. "For them to come to us is a remarkable achievement. And I thank (Rowdies director of player development) Perry Van Der Beck and (Rowdies president) Andrew Nestor for getting them in a Rowdies jersey."
BEING REALISTIC: With injuries continuing to mount, Dalglish indicated he would be happy just to get a tie tonight against Rochester, whose 27 points are third in the league.
"It's going to be tough," he said. "We're going to have to dig deep as a squad."
The Rowdies will get help on Sunday.
They hope M Jeremy Christie will be recovered from a concussion sustained July 4 against Miami and can go 90 minutes. D Yendry Diaz also should be available after taking a hard kick above his ankle in last week's 0-0 tie against Puerto Rico.
Still, Dalglish stopped short of calling Sunday's match a must-win. Miami sits 11th among 12 teams, its 15 points two ahead of St. Louis.
"We want to win, but I don't think it's a must-win," he said. "We've got to be realistic with our expectations. If you take six out of the starting 11 out of any team in this league, they will really, really struggle.
"Once we get all our players back, with the talent we have, we expect to win all of them. When we've got our full squad to choose from, we're as good as any team in the league."
KICKS IN THE GRASS: Dalglish indicated Christie would play tonight but not a full 90 minutes. "If he comes through with no reaction to his injury, he'll start on Sunday," Dalglish said. … Tonight's match will be carried live on fctampabay.com. … The Rowdies continue their Thirsty Thursday promotion tonight. Beers are $1 from 6 p.m., when the gates open, until kickoff at 7:30 p.m.