Tom Bowen Re-Signs as USL League 2 Head Coach

Written by Michael Lewis

UNIONDALE, NY, January 23, 2023 —  Tom Bowen, who guided the Long Island Rough Riders to the USL League Two championship game last summer, will return to the team for a third season, the club announced today.

Under Bowen’s tutelage, the Rough Riders enjoyed one of their finest seasons in their 30-year history, losing to the Ventura County Fusion in the league final, 2-1, on Aug. 6. Long Island finished second in the Metropolitan Division with an 11-2-1 record before going on a historic four-game winning streak in the playoffs.

All those matches were on the road.

Duplicating that success could be difficult but Bowen will put his energies into the team when it resumes League Two action in May.

“I’m a competitor,” he said. “I enjoy winning and whenever I do something I want to win. To improve on what we did last year is going to be extremely difficult, but it’s also about the memories that we created and the trips that we went on and the players that I got to work with. That’s the reason for coming back. It’s an exciting time to be around the club.”

The Rough Riders started their postseason run with a 3-1 triumph over the Ocean City Nor’easters on June 22. Two days later, the Riders recorded a 2-1 win over Vermont Green FC. They added another 2-1 decision under their belt against the Seacoast United Phantoms on July 29 before besting the North Carolina Fusion U23 on Aug. 1. to reach the national final.

“I know how difficult it was to win a first round playoff game last year against Ocean City,” said Bowen, “which is one of the toughest games you’re going to play all year, in the very first round.

“To win four or five on the bounce is exceptionally difficult but we’ll give it a go. Like I said, it’s just the overall experience of each trip and match. It’s a good time traveling with the team. We went all around the country ended up on the west coast in California. Just being around them traveling, the hotels, the training. It’s all of the fun that you have along the way.”

Every team goes through roster changes every year and the Rough Riders are no different. Saying that, several players from that 2022 winning side are expected to return.

“There will be a few,” Bowen said. “The nature of this league and college system means that there is heavy turnover every single year and people can return or can’t return for different reasons. For example, some guys are starting their master’s degrees now, which means they have to take summer classes. That means they just they just can’t play summer soccer at all.”

Returnees and new signings will be announced in the coming months on Rough Riders platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

The Rough Riders’ success over the years, particularly in the last two seasons, will help Bowen recruit fresh talent for the 2023 campaign. Bowen boasts an impressive 27-4-5 overall record in the combined 2021 and 2022 seasons.

“I’ve started recruiting the team already behind the scenes, and we were off to a really good start,” he said. “Considering how well we’ve done over the last few years, it’s a team that a lot of people want to play for.”

The Rough Riders have used players from local colleges and Long Island residents to stock their roster and also have brought in players from around the country.

“There are a lot of good teams around the country,” Bowen said. “But I think location-wise, it’s a cool place to be for the summer. New York, near the beaches and the city. And then also obviously, the fact that we’ve done so well over the last couple of years. It’s gotten our name out there. People know who we are and not only how well we’ve done, but the number of players we’ve pushed on to become professional in the last couple of years. It shows that our pathway works.”

For example, in December two former Rough Riders standouts who were key members of the 2022 squad joined professional teams. Defender Jayden Reid signed a Major League Soccer Homegrown contract with the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer and former Hofstra University forward Matthew Vowinkel has joined One Knoxville Sporting Club in USL League One.

The Rough Riders have enjoyed a storied history, capturing the U.S. Interregional Soccer League crown in 1995 and the USL Pro League title in 2002.

The Rough Riders will return to action in the USL League 2 in May. Be on the look out for schedule announcement and brand new ticket packages expected to be announced in late February.


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Don’t miss out on exciting club news, ticket offers, program discounts and more!