“Pro, College Teams Collaborate for Late Coach”

Major League Soccer team Real Salt Lake skirmished the University of Tampa men on Tuesday, Feb. 24, before their match against BK Hacken of Sweden for the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial game.

Fitzgerald had coached for college and MLS programs, including the UT coach from 1984-1995 before returning in 2004 when he died.

Though the Spartans lost the exhibition 4-0, the experience gained was essential to a young team.

‘It was a great opportunity for our players. Every player here is returning next year. There’s not that many college teams that get a chance like this,’ Tampa coach Adrian Bush said.
‘Every player played tonight, we’ve got a lot of depth as we continue to build. I think the score is deserving for the mistakes we made tonight.’

As good as the off-season practice was, both program’s real concern lies in Friday’s game for the Tom Fitzgerald Scholarship Fund.

Real head coach Jason Kries was coached by Fitzgerald on the United States National B team about 15 years ago.

Despite the time elapse, Kries collaborated with Bush and the athletic department to make the philanthropic game possible.

BK Hacken has been training overseas in Miami and also committed to helping a man who had been building ties with Swedish players since 1978.

‘We really want to thank Real Salt Lake for their efforts for looking to secure the game to make sure it happened,’ Bush said.

‘It’s a great honor for one of the greatest ambassadors definitely in Tampa Bay of soccer, not just college but youth soccer and for the United States. To have a Swedish team playing in the actual game, I know he’d be very proud to have that.’

Bobby Winsler can be reached at minaret.sports@gmail.com.

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