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Campbell Out as Rowdies Coach

Stuart Campbell’s tenure as head coach for the Tampa Bay Rowdies has come to end.

The news came Thursday morning, a day removed from the club’s first round exit in the U.S. Open Cup to Jacksonville Armada. Campbell has been in the position since taking over from Thomas Rongen in the back half of the 2015 season. In that time, the Rowdies have a record of 31W-19D-28L in league play.

The club did not announce a replacement for Campbell or name an interim coach.

“It has been wonderful working with Stuart these last few years, and we will miss him,” Rowdies Owner Bill Edwards said. “He has been a great example for our players and coaching staff. We part ways with the utmost respect for one another and I look forward to seeing him at future matches.”

Despite posting four wins in four outings at Al Lang Stadium this year, the Rowdies have struggled to establish themselves as serious contenders in Eastern Conference through the first quarter of the United Soccer League season. After notching a victory at North Carolina FC in the season opener, the club has recorded four straight road losses in the USL and has been outscored 11-0 in those matches.

The Rowdies remain in a postseason position heading into Saturday’s home match against the undefeated Pittsburgh Riverhounds, though they’re close to falling out of that as five teams are within three points or fewer of catching them in the standings.

Campbell joined the Rowdies as a player and assistant coach ahead of the 2012 North American Soccer League season, playing a key role as a midfielder as the club went on to claim its first league title of the modern era that ear. He retired after the 2013 season to become a full-time assistant under then head coach Ricky Hill.

At only 37 years old, Campbell was thrust into the head coaching role unexpectedly after the abrupt exit of Rongen two and half years ago. Campbell failed to rally the Rowdies to a postseason berth in the final months of that season and in his first full season in charge the following year. In 2017, Campbell managed to right the ship enough to get the Rowdies back into the postseason for the first time since 2012 as they finished third in the conference in their USL debut. Ultimately, they fell to New York Red Bulls II in a bitter extra-time loss in the second round of the postseason.

“First and foremost I’d like to thank Bill for the opportunities he has given me and the loyalty he has shown toward me,” Campbell said. “This opportunity has been life changing for my family and I, and for that we will be forever grateful to the Rowdies.”

Campbell has always had the respect of Rowdies supporters for his time as a player in the Green and Gold, though many have questioned if he was the right person to be the permanent head coach. Fan frustrations over the lack of progress the club has made under Campbell over the last few years despite significant investment from ownership reached a tipping point during this recent stretch of losses.

Photo by Patrick Patterson/Unused Substitutes

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