by JAKE NUTTING
A longtime member of Orlando City is joining up with the Tampa Bay Rowdies for their debut in the United Soccer League.
Sources have confirmed that veteran left back Luke Boden has inked a deal to play for the Rowdies after spending the last six years on the opposite end of Interstate 4. An announcement of the signing is expected by the end of the week before the Florida Cup kicks off.
Boden, 28, came up in the youth system of his hometown club Sheffield Wednesday and made his professional debut with the first team in 2006. After a series of loans over the next few years, Boden made the jump to the U.S. for Orlando’s inaugural USL season in 2011. With Boden as a mainstay at left back, Orlando captured three regular season trophies and two playoff titles during their four-year stint in the USL.
After appearing in over 87 matches for Orlando in the USL, Boden faced stiffer competition for the starting spot when the team transitioned to MLS and acquired Brek Shea. He recorded one goal and four assists while making 25 appearances in the team’s first season in MLS in 2015, but saw his minutes dip further this past year. He managed three assists through 20 appearances in a season that saw Orlando oust head coach Adrian Heath and bring in Jason Kreis as a replacement. Boden became available when Orlando chose not to extend his contract at the end of the season.
Boden’s primary position is left back, though his reputation for quality passing and crossing means he could find time further up the field in midfield if need be. Zac Portillos is the only other left back listed on Tampa Bay’s roster at the moment, but the 24-year-old has yet to play a full season after suffering two separate Achilles tendon ruptures.
The Englishman will not take up an international spot on the Rowdies’ roster as he holds a U.S. green card.