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Joe Cole talks “mishmash” of NASL level, MLS aims of Tampa Bay

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Tampa Bay Rowdies man Joe Cole‘s word carries some weight in the English media, and the ex-Three Lions man was asked to assess the quality of the NASL.

Cole posted nine goals and seven assists in 24 matches for the Rowdies this year across their Spring and Fall seasons, and also was asked about the direction of Tampa Bay.

[ MORE: U.S. GK on trial at Everton ]

Here are his thoughts, taken from on Sky Sports TV in England…

On the standard: “Every team’s got 5 or 6 international, but they’re all sort of Ecuador, El Salvador. The standard’s okay, but then you’ve got some players who wouldn’t get into a League Two, Conference-style side. It’s a mishmash. There’s some players, you think, He’s got a chance here.”

On Tampa’s ambition: “The plan was always MLS but we couldn’t say that when we went out there. The whole thing the owner wants to do it take the club, cause it’s got a name Tampa Bay Rowdies from the 1970s,  to MLS. Now with all the politics is out of the way they can say, ‘This is what we want to do’ 2018, 19, 20, the stadium is being built so it’s all looking like going to MLS.”

Was it easy? “I loved the home games cause I can stroll down the bay, you get there an hour and a half before kickoff, stroll back stop in a nice restaurant, it’s lovely. But the away games are a nightmare. It’s like a three hour flight, change, hour flight, and you can play on some real bad pitches. Astroturf and things like that.  It’s the same like MLS, you can speak to Frank and Stevie, they are tough physically cause of the travel and the time zones.”
All-in-all, nothing wildly surprising — especially the travel bit — but it is interesting to hear Tampa Bay’s in-house goals were hardline MLS. And what’s wrong with Ecuador, Joe?

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VIDEO: Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Joe Cole bags a bicycle-kick beauty

Photo credit: NASL / Twitter: @NASLofficial
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In case you missed it, Joe Cole has decided earlier this year to bring his talents to these American shores as he enters the twilight of his playing career (he’s 34 now).

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No, he’s not playing in MLS. The NASL, rather, where he’s starring alongside Freddy Adu for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. On Saturday, Cole scored himself a stunning bicycle-kick goal to put the Rowdies ahead after 10 minutes.

American soccer is weird sometimes, but also really cool.

English striker Joe Cole heading to NASL side Tampa Bay

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Joe Cole left Aston Villa for Coventry City earlier this year, and now the 56-times capped England man is coming to the North American Soccer League (NASL).

[ MORE: Chatting with NASL commish Peterson ]

Cole has two goals and six assists in 22 games for the Sky Blues since arriving this season, and the 34-year-old would be the latest World Cup veteran to head to the NASL.

The striker had 10 goals for England, and has also played for West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Lille and West Ham United.

Here’s Coventry City manager Tony Mowbray, courtesy the BBC:

“I would have liked to have kept Joe,” said City boss Tony Mowbray. “He has proved his fitness and worth to the team

“He’s a fantastic character. No airs and graces, not looking for favours or extra days off and has shown his football ability.

“He can help us control matches but he’s made his decision for his family, and we wish him well. It might happen pretty quickly if he can get international clearance.”

Tampa is 3-2-2 to start the NASL season, and boasts a roster with Darwin Espinal, Eric Avila, Georgi Hristov and Freddy Adu.

Coventry City is really, really, really excited about Joe Cole

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It’s not all that often that a three-time Premier League champion spends time in League One.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League predictions ]

So it’s probably best to let Coventry City phrase it for us, because many of us are probably reacting the same way to the above headline.

It’s an “emergency loan” from Aston Villa, but Cole will certainly welcome the playing time. The 33-year-old has made a grand total of 51 PL appearances in the past four seasons between Liverpool, West Ham and Villa. His goal total? Seven.

You’ll be familiar with Cole’s manager, Tony Mowbray, and here’s what he says about the 35-day deal:

“I’m delighted to welcome such a high-calibre player to the club. … I’ve met with Joe and he has watched us play several times this season. He likes the way we play the game and because of that, he has shown a real enthusiasm to come and play for the club.”
They’re excited. And frankly, we’ll be interested to see what the longtime Chelsea man does down a couple leagues. Now are unrelated Coles like Andy (43 years old) and Carlton (free agent) interested in a spell with the Sky Blues?

Joe Cole joins Aston Villa; Fourth team in as many years

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Joe Cole’s second stint with West Ham United was much shorter than his first, as the former Chelsea and Liverpool player has skipped London to join Aston Villa.

He’ll still be wearing claret when he takes the field next year. Cole, 33, scored five goals for the Hammers in his second spell with the club.

After splitting the first dozen years of his career between two clubs, West Ham and Chelsea, Cole now finds himself in his fourth uniform in four seasons. Cole was capped 56 times for England, scoring 10 times, but hasn’t played for the Three Lions since 2010.

Villa manager Paul Lambert will be under a lot of pressure if the season starts poorly, so Cole’s contributions can make a huge difference for the boss and his security (though there’s been talk as to how big of a role Lambert is being allowed to play in the transfer market).