Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rowdies' Rodrigues gets taste of superstar lifestyle with Guyana national team

J.P. Rodrigues, right, is on the Guyana national team for World Cup qualifying. “It was crazy,” he says of the attention.


J.P. Rodrigues, right, is on the Guyana national team for World Cup qualifying. “It was crazy,” he says of the attention.

TAMPA — J.P. Rodrigues exited customs at Mexico City International Airport with teammates from the Guyana national team, opened an opaque glass door leading to baggage claim and was besieged by 40 or so journalists assigned to cover Guyana's 2014 World Cup qualifying match against Mexico.

As cameras clicked and video lights blinded, reporters shoved microphones and tape recorders into Rodrigues' face and — in Spanish — peppered him with questions.

"How will you compete with the mighty Mexican team?" "What do you think of Chicharito?" "Have you ever seen a stadium as big as (104,000 capacity) Azteca?"

The experience was surreal for Rodrigues, used to the anonymity of playing for the Rowdies in a second-level league in a country that considers soccer a mid-major sport. He had heard about the rock-star lifestyle players enjoyed in more soccer-mad locales.

Now he was living it.

"When we were walking through the mall (in Mexico City), people were asking for our autographs, taking pictures. It was crazy," Rodrigues said. "They respect you for being a soccer player, even if they've never seen you play. They just love soccer there. … It was neat to experience that."

Rodrigues left the Rowdies on May 26 and spent nearly three weeks playing for the Guyana national team as it began the third round of World Cup qualifying. After training in Bogota, Colombia, and scrimmaging the Colombian team in a closed-door meeting, the Guyanese traveled to Mexico City for their opening match against Mexico and played four days later at home in Georgetown against Costa Rica.

Rodrigues, who is allowed to play for Guyana because his father was born there, played a full 90 minutes in both matches as a central defender. Against CONCACAF favorite Mexico, Guyana performed better than expected in a 3-1 loss in front of more than 80,000. Rodrigues said prior to that he had never played before a crowd larger than 17,000.

"When we went back to Guyana, we were greeted at the airport," he said. "They acted as if we won, which was nice, but at the same time, we didn't. We gained a lot of respect to go into Azteca and not get blown out in front of that many people."

Guyana followed the Mexico defeat with a disappointing 4-0 loss at home to Costa Rica.

Rodrigues — who has 19 caps for Guyana dating to 2006, when he made his first appearance in a Gold Cup qualifier — missed four matches for the Rowdies but was back in time to start last Saturday's 2-1 victory at Minnesota, which snapped a three-match losing streak.

"J.P. definitely came back and brought us his verve and his spirit and his intensity and his desire to defend," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said.

Guyana, a long shot to qualify for the World Cup, will have another chance to earn points when it plays at El Salvador on Sept. 7 and hosts the team Sept. 11.

"We played well in our first two games, and we learned a lot going forward," Rodrigues said. "We're not out of it by any means."

. Tonight

Rowdies vs. San Antonio

When/where: 7:30; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg

Records: Rowdies 4-5-3 (15 points); San Antonio 6-1-4 (22)

Last time out: The Rowdies salvaged three points from an up-to-that-point disastrous three-game road trip by rallying to defeat Minnesota 2-1 last Saturday. The victory was the Rowdies' first since May 22. San Antonio moved into first place in the NASL after beating Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico 2-0 last Saturday. The Scorpions are unbeaten in their past nine league games.

Notes: Former Rowdies GK Daryl Sattler has been instrumental in San Antonio's surge to the top of the NASL. Sattler, who missed most of last season with Tampa Bay after tearing the ACL in his right knee, leads the league with a 0.37 goals-allowed average. … Current Rowdies GK Jeff Attinella is tops in the league for most saves with 49. … Rowdies M Shane Hill is suspended for tonight's match after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the victory over Minnesota.

Tampa Bay Rowdies' Rodrigues gets taste of superstar lifestyle with Guyana national team 06/22/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 22, 2012 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  2. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  5. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games


    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.