st.petersburg, florida – The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced Friday the return of defenders Tate Johnson and Santiago Castaneda for the second season as a deal with the USL Academy for the 2023 USL Championship season.
Johnson and Castaneda made their professional debuts last year with Rowdies, coming off as substitutes in the club’s victory over The Village SC in the third round of the US Open Cup. earned playing time for the Roadies.
“Last year both Tate and Santi came in to supplement training and see how they fit in at their level, and both have shown great progress throughout the season,” said Rowdies head coach Neil Collins. “This preseason they’re really fighting for their place on the team, just like every other player on our team. The fact that they have an academy deal. doesn’t really change anything when it comes to team selection.The best players play and both of these players are pushing to be part of the team on the field.”
As USL Academy contractors, Johnson and Castaneda are eligible to compete in professional matches at the Rowdies while maintaining their college eligibility. A member of his system for Tampa Bay United youth, Johnson has committed to playing his college football at the University of North Carolina. Castaneda, a Florida Premier FC player, has committed to play for the University of Michigan.
“I’m happy to have the opportunity from Collins and the coaching staff,” Castaneda said. “Last season, I loved the way their group welcomed me to be part of them and the way they treated me. And I’m excited to fight for the chance to play with the new group that’s coming in.”
Johnson made enough of an impression on Collins and the coaching staff last year in Tampa Bay’s penultimate game of the regular season against Loudoun United FC. played a key role in winning the 2022 USL Academy League Playoffs and being voted into the All-Tournament Team.
“I am very excited to be signing this deal and really excited to be working here,” Johnson said. I feel like I’ve been working hard in and have left more than I did last year.”