We’ve come to the conclusion of our Best XI of the Decade debate. Today we’re picking the forwards who we feel have had the biggest impact through the first ten seasons of the Rowdies modern era, taking a look at our entire XIs, and presenting our bench selections.
Thank you all for following the discussion all week long. It’s not as easy an as task as it might seem on the surface. Your instinct may be to make it solely about pure talent and skill, but when you get down to it something in your heart won’t let you ignore a personal connection to a player or what they represent to the club as a symbol or the importance of what they achieved.
So when you’re done looking over our picks share your Best XI with us in the comments or on social media.
Georgi Hristov, Sebastian Guenzatti. If I have to explain Georgi, you aren’t a Rowdies fan. As for Guenzatti, he’s also nearing the 100-appearance milestone and proved himself more than adequate in 2019 as both captain and the focal point up top. It’s no coincidence that the only two players to record a hat trick in the modern era make my cut.
Bench: Jeff Attinella, Frankie Sanfilippo, Takuya Yamada, Keith Savage, Michael Nanchoff, Juan Guerra, Lucky Mkosana
Georgi Hristov, Leo Fernandes, Sebastian Guenzatti: Up front, Georgi’s presence is a given. Fernandes has been an excellent, creative and dependable servant to the club during his time. Seba had a remarkable season in 2019, mentoring young players and leading a new era for the team as captain while also setting the single-season goal scoring record. He’s earned his spot for sure.
Bench: Matt Pickens, Frankie Sanfilippo, Ben Sweat, Takuya Yamada, Mike Ambersley, Keith Savage, Zac Portillos
Georgi Hristov, Aaron King: The easiest selection anyone could make is Georgi Hristov. I mean, come on. Nearly 200 games and 56 goals? He has to be here. Aaron King on the other hand is not a name most recent Rowdies fans will recognize. In 2010 and 2011, he scored 21 total goals in just 56 games, which is by far the best goals-to-games ratio of almost any striker the Rowdies have had during the decade.
Bench: Matt Pickens, Takuya Yamada, Tam Mkandawire, Andres Arango, Marcel Schafer, Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, Daniel Antoniuk
Honorable Mention, Caleb Richards: Since Caleb was only a one-year loanee I didn’t feel it was appropriate to put him in the official honors. That said, I think he may be the best player we’ve ever had put on the uniform.
Georgi Hristov: Maybe it’s controversial to only pick one forward for the best of the decade list, but I’m hoping that going with the unimpeachable choice of Georgi will mitigate that. It’s not meant as a sign of disrespect for the quality strikers that have donned the Green and Gold. However, it’s hard for me to deny this is an area the Rowdies have lacked depth in for ten seasons now. They’ve been much stronger when it comes to recruiting attacking midfielders, which I think my midfield picks show. As much as I respect what Guenzatti did in 2019 (and I hope he continues to do for years to come), the truth is it was only the first year he played as a true striker. Singling out Georgi as my lone striker is not a condemnation of those that came before, but rather a sign of respect for just how much the Bulgarian stood out from the crowd. He did it in two different leagues and under several different coaches. No other Rowdies player of the modern era has built a legacy ready to face the test of time the way Georgi has.
Bench: Matt Pickens, Andres Arango, Frankie Sanfilippo, Pape Diakite, Michael Nanchoff, Sebastian Guenzatti, Aaron King