After unsuccessfully wooing Ray Hudson twice, the Tampa Bay Rowdiessoccer team signed the longtime Fort Lauderdale Strikers midfielder to a two-year contract this week.
General manager Rodney Marsh - still looking for a head man to replace Mark Lawrenson, who went back to England to coach - said Hudson, 34, will serve as the Rowdies' assistant coach in addition to playing midfield.
"Ray Hudson will be our field general, and his performance will be vital," Marsh said. "I'm expecting a lot from him. With Ray Hudson, I fully expect us to win the championship."
Hudson nearly joined the Rowdies in 1980 and last year. Both times, he resisted the temptation, citing deep loyalties to Fort Lauderdale.
The only other professional club he has played for is Newcastle United of the English First Division.
But he had a falling out with Strikers management last season and played only six games for the eventual ASL champions.
"I should have signed with the Rowdies last year, but it was a matter of my heart overruling my head," Hudson said. "It was my own stupid mistake. I'm absolutely delighted to be here. I wish we were playing Fort Lauderdale tomorrow."
It wasn't all good news this week for the Rowdies, who open the 1990 American Soccer League season against the Washington Stars at 8 p.m. April 7 at Tampa Stadium.
Starting goalkeeper Winston DuBose had surgery on a herninated disc Wednesday and will be out for about two months.
"The doctors seem to be confident that things went well," DuBose said from his bed at St. Joseph's Hospital. "It's just going to take a little time. I feel very confident that I'll be playing this season."
The Rowdies have no other goalkeeper on their roster, because last year's backup, Dan Cordia, asked to be released. Marsh said he has talked to former Rowdie Kevin Clinton.
The team has reached agreements with midfielders Wes McLeod and Perry Van Der Beck and forward Peter Ward, Marsh said. All are playing in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Under ASL rules, each of its teams may have only two MISL players, so no more than two of the three will be playing for the Rowdies this summer.
A possible newcomer is defender Tommy Reasoner, who just finished a stellar collegiate career at the University of Tampa. Marsh spotted him at an open tryout last week and said he wants to sign the former Tarpon Springs star.
"Reasoner looked the most impressive of the lads we had at the tryout," Marsh said.
Notes: The Rowdies have unveiled new uniforms. Jerseys are green and white with no gold for home, black and silver for road matches.
The shirts will bear the insignia of the club's first major sponsor, Umbro, a company based in Manchester, England. The four-year deal with Umbro will significantly help balance the budget, club owner Cornelia Corbett said.