The Rowdies will have a key player back in time for the postseason.
Midfielder Laurence Wyke, who was suspended 12 games on Oct. 10 after the USL Championship investigated “allegations of racially discriminatory behavior” stemming from a match against Monterey Bay FC, had his suspension overturned by the Independent Disciplinary Panel on Friday. The panel said there was insufficient evidence to uphold the suspension; their decision was unanimous.
The Rowdies, who said tensions were high after the Oct. 2 match in California and “words and gestures were exchanged,” disputed that there “was any racial intent behind what (Wyke) did that evening.” The team was also unhappy with the way the league “conducted a failed process” in its investigation and “rushed to a conclusion and issued a statement without providing us the full report.”
On Friday, the Rowdies continued to express their frustration with the league.
“While we are pleased with the outcome for (Wyke), we remain outraged by the USL’s myriad failures,” the team said in a statement. “...This issue is far too important to the League and its players for the leadership of the USL not to take responsibility, review processes, and acknowledge where they must do better. We intend to hold them accountable.”
Wyke, who missed the past two games, is immediately eligible. Tampa Bay (19-7-7) hosts the New York Red Bulls II in Saturday’s regular-season finale.
According to the USL Championship, the three-person disciplinary panel is not affiliated with the league or players association and consists of a former professional coach, referee and player.