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Rowdies owner fires coach, general manager

Tampa Bay Rowdies president and general manager Farrukh Quraishi, left, talks with fans in the parking lot before a game at Al Lang Stadium on April, 25. [LARA CERRI  | Times]
Tampa Bay Rowdies president and general manager Farrukh Quraishi, left, talks with fans in the parking lot before a game at Al Lang Stadium on April, 25. [LARA CERRI | Times]
Published Aug. 22, 2015

When Bill Edwards became the Tampa Bay Rowdies' owner in 2013, he said his goal for the team was "to win every game." He wasn't kidding.

With his team mired in a seven game slump, Edwards fired coach Thomas Rongen and general manager Farrukh Quraishi on Friday morning. The announcement came just two days after the Rowdies lost 2-0 to then-last-place Indy Eleven. In the North American Soccer League's fall season, the Rowdies have two wins, five losses and a tie.

"We had a difference of opinion," Edwards said. "We didn't agree on much of anything. That was the problem.

"It's simple. We've lost six games in a row (1-1-5 in past seven games). We did great in the first five or 10 games of the spring season. But between the spring and the fall there was a lot of changes to everybody's team. We didn't change anything. We stayed the same. It's time we make a change."

The Rowdies didn't exactly stay the same. They did bring in former U.S. national team member Freddy Adu last month, but he has played sparingly.

Edwards said Stuart Campbell will be the interim head coach for tonight's home game against Minnesota. Campbell played for the 2012 NASL champion Rowdies team, was a player/assistant coach in 2013 and was hired as a full-time assistant in February of 2014.

"He's been a part of this team for a long time," Edwards said. "He was part of the 2012 championship team, he's been a player/coach and an assistant coach. He can handle the job."

Edwards said he wouldn't immediately name a new president/GM. Twelve matches still remain in the Rowdies' season, which ends Oct. 31 against the New York Cosmos. Tampa Bay is 10th of 11 teams in the fall season and fourth overall — still in a playoff spot — with a record of 7-5-6 and 26 points.

Rongen was hired in December and took over for former coach Ricky Hill. The Rowdies were one point behind New York in the spring standings but have fallen six points behind the first-place Cosmos. This was Rongen's second stint as a head coach with a team in Tampa Bay. He was also coach of Major League Soccer's Mutiny in 1996. In 1999, Rongen, 58, led D.C. United to the MLS championship.

On Thursday, a day before his firing, Rongen spoke about the team's current position.

"Now, other teams in the league have hit their stride," he said. "Reality has set in for us. Maybe we're not as good as we thought we were."

Reached Friday, Rongen said, "I don't have much to say right now. Maybe in a couple days when it all settles in."

Quraishi, 63, is a fixture in Tampa Bay soccer. He played for the original Rowdies in 1975 and was general manager of the Mutiny in 1996. He was hired by Edwards in November. One of his first moves was to hire Rongen as coach.

Quraishi did not immediately return calls for comment.

Times correspondent Darek Sharpe contributed to this report.