Tampa Bay Sports Day

USL: Lakeland Native Alex Morrell Joins Rowdies For 2017 Season

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies have made their first new signing of the offseason with young forward Alex Morrell joining the 2017 roster, the club announced Thursday, pending league and federation approval. Per club and league policy, further contract details were not disclosed.

Morrell, 22, is a Lakeland native that joins the Rowdies from Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire. He spent part of last season in the United Soccer League on loan to Saint Louis FC. Morrell will wear the No. 9 jersey for the Rowdies.

“We’re excited to sign a young player of Alex’s quality,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “He spent last year in MLS learning from experienced coaches and players and now he’s ready to make the next step. We look forward to seeing him develop and make an impact here with the Rowdies.”

A central Florida native, Morrell played youth soccer for St. Petersburg’s Strictly Soccer before playing collegiately for the University of North Florida Ospreys from 2012 to 2015. In 63 games with the Ospreys, Morrell scored 10 goals.

The Fire selected Morrell 22nd overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. He made four appearances for Chicago in his first professional season, logging 56 minutes. Morrell was loaned to Saint Louis in August and played in two USL matches.

Morrell is the 12th member of the Rowdies’ 2017 roster, which opens preseason play Jan. 8 against Germany’s VfL Wolfsburg in the Florida Cup.

The Rowdies also re-signed another member of their 2016 roster, with defender Darnell King returning to the team as a free agent.

King, 26, is set for his third season in Tampa Bay and is the 11th player to return to the Rowdies this offseason. He played 32 matches for the Rowdies in 2016. The only two matches he did not appear in were due to red card suspensions.

In just two seasons, King has made 60 total appearances for the Rowdies in league and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

“Darnell has improved every season of his professional career,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “He raises his game each time he plays and that is something that we can continue to build on. He’s a Tampa Bay native, which is always important because we want to represent the community we play in.”

After a standout high school career as a forward at Tampa’s Gaither High School, King played collegiately at Florida Atlantic University before starting his professional career with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. King scored six goals in three seasons with the Strikers.

With the signings, the Rowdies’ roster currently stands as follows:

Goalkeepers (1): Matt Pickens

Defenders (4): Neill Collins, Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire, Zac Portillos

Midfielders (5): Justin Chavez, Joe Cole, Michael Nanchoff, Keith Savage, Martin Vingaard

Forwards (1): Georgi Hristov

Tickets for the Florida Cup are available here. The Tampa Bay Rowdies kick off their inaugural USL Season in March 2017 and they’ll need your support to make it a memorable one. Secure season tickets before December 30 and save money on tickets.