Following Saturday's game against Minnesota United FC at Al Lang Stadium, the Tampa Bay Rowdies are taking a monthlong break. That means, like most of you, the players will catch this year's World Cup matches in bars and living rooms, grabbing beers and prognosticating about which nation will take it all home. Unsurprisingly, their predictions fall in line with national allegiance — but not everyone will be rooting for the home team. Tbt* talked to some Rowdies about how they think things will shake out, and got some interesting answers. — Robbyn Mitchell [email protected]
Anthony Wallace, 25, midfielder/defender
A St. Petersburg native, Wallace played his college soccer at the University of South Florida before being drafted by Major League Soccer's FC Dallas in 2007. He played for the Colorado Rapids from 2009 until joining the Rowdies six months ago. The Rapids won the MLS Championship in 2010 and Wallace has one cap with the U.S. national team from 2011.
Who will be the differencemaker in Team USA's World Cup chances?
It's so hard to say. USA plays as a team, that's how they train, and really no one player who stands out against the rest. Everybody contributes, so there never is one person who comes out of the blue to save the day. That's what makes them who they are.
Which games are you looking forward to watching most?
I want to see every single Spain game. I cannot miss any of them. When I think of the Spanish national team, I think of a team that's just always in form. I'm a fan.
Will the U.S. advance out of group play?
I don't know. A lot of people are counting us out already, but in the moment you never know what will happen in a match.
EVANS Frimpong, 24, midfielder
In his third season with the Rowdies, the Ghana native and University of Delaware grad was drafted to the MLS by the Chicago Fire in 2012.
You were talking smack about Ghana beating the United States on June 16 in social media. What makes you so confident?
Ghana versus the USA, this is the third time we will meet, and we won the last two. ... I believe in Ghana because I was raised there and there it's more than a game. There is no chance the U.S. will win.
How do you plan on watching those games?
I'll be at MacDinton's in St. Pete for the Ghana/USA game and then afterward we're going to reach out to the African community and hold a big after-party with every African food and drink there, some you have never heard of. It will be party time.
What makes Ghana a strong team this year?
Now we have a really young team and the pace is also faster now. Our new young stars are more attacking than in the past World Cups that we have been to. It will create problems.
Frankie Sanfilippo, 32, defender
The San Diego native, a San Jose State graduate, has played for the Syracuse Salty Dogs, the Rochester Rhinos, Carolina RailHawks and the Charleston Battery. He joined the Rowdies in 2011.
Where are you planning to catch the World Cup games?
I'll probably head home to California and watch with friends and family. I grew up in this Italian fishing community, and nearby is a Portuguese community, so whenever there is something big, the rivalry turns on. It's a great time.
Who are you hoping will win it all?
Honestly, I'm going to root for Spain. I think Brazil is good but I don't get the feeling they will win. They will be in the top four, for sure, but they aren't gong to win it. I don't know what that country will do when they don't.
What's your idea of perfect match-viewing food?
For me, there always has to be chips and guacamole, California-style. In California the games will start at noon and 3 p.m. and there might even be some at 9 a.m. Maybe for the morning games, omelets and guac.