TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti has been voted the USL Championship’s player of the month for September.
The former Cosmos midfielder registered 62 percent of the vote following a remarkable month in which he recorded seven goals and two assists in five appearances. The performances helped the Rowdies to a perfect month with five wins out of five on the way to clinching their third consecutive trip to the USL Championship Playoffs and the Atlantic Division title early in October.
The Rowdies’ captain, Guenzatti has been one of the league’s standout forwards over the past three seasons, and recently passed 50 regular-season goals in the Championship for his career. His resurgence in September came after he had remarkably not found the net once in August, a rarity for a player whose consistency in front of goal has been a key element for Tampa Bay’s success, including claiming the Eastern Conference Title a season ago.
The absence of goals wasn’t a concern for the veteran, who was born in Montevideo, Uruguay but grew up in Queens, N.Y. after his family moved to the United States when he was 12. When he opened the scoring for Tampa Bay in its first game in September – a 3-0 victory against Oakland Roots SC – the dam burst.
“Getting that first goal was definitely a weight off my shoulders, but I was calm,” Guenzatti said. “I knew it was going to come. It happens to forwards that you go a little while without scoring, but I knew once I get the first one in, the rest were going to start coming in.”
As impressive as Guenzatti’s goalscoring numbers have been – through Wednesday night, no player has scored more regular-season goals than Guenzatti’s 45 since the start of the 2019 season in the Championship – the work-rate he brings to the position as the first line of defense and in his hold-up play has made him a truly rounded player.
“Among us he’s held in such high regard, but maybe outside sometimes he’s a little bit underrated,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “When you look at his goal record, it speaks for himself. For me, the previous month when he didn’t score wasn’t cause for concern because I know Seba will keep doing the things he does, and the goals will come. I think on top of his goals, his performances have just been fantastic, as has the team’s. He’s raised his level from the last couple months and it’s great to see him get the recognition.”
The Rowdies are within reach of claiming the best record in the Championship with four games to go in the regular season, holding a narrow edge over both Phoenix Rising FC and El Paso Locomotive FC in the maximum available points the side can accumulate. The club could also set a new single-season record for home wins should it take victory in its last two outings, on Friday against the New York Red Bulls II and next Wednesday against in-state rival Miami FC, which would give the side 14 victories out of 16 games at Al Lang Stadium.
The opportunity to have the road to the USL Championship Final run through Al Lang Stadium as the Rowdies try to defend their Eastern Conference crown and claim the second league title of their modern era is a major one for Guenzatti and his teammates.
“That top seed is very important,” said Guenzatti. “We really want to play the whole playoffs and even the final at Al Lang. It will be a dream for us, the fans, and the whole organization. They’ve been working very hard. Last year, due to COVID, we didn’t have the chance to play at home, but now I know if we put in all the effort and everybody works together and we play at home, we’re going to have an amazing time.”
Guenzatti received 62 percent of a weighted poll that included the USL Championship technical committee, a national panel of independent media representing every USL market and an online fan vote held at USLChampionship.com. Miami FC’s Christiano Francois finished second on 16 percent after recording five goals in five games, while Phoenix Rising FC’s Santi Moar finished in third place following his five goals in six games, including a pair of game-winners for the Pacific Division title-winner.
USL Championship Player of the Month – September 2021
|Nominee||Fan Vote||Weight||Media Vote||Weight||USL Vote||Weight||Total Vote|
|Sebastian Guenzatti (TBR)||36%||18%||77%||18%||100%||25%||62%|
|Christiano Francois (MIA)||32%||16%||0%||0%||0%||0%||16%|
|Santi Moar (PHX)||9%||5%||23%||6%||0%||0%||10%|
|Cameron Lancaster (LOU)||16%||8%||0%||0%||0%||0%||8%|
|Aodhan Quinn (PHX)||7%||4%||0%||0%||0%||0%||4%|