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Tampa Bay Rowdies manager, 2 others to miss USLC Final due to COVID-19

(Twitter Photo/@PHXRisingFC)

The Tampa Bay Rowdies will be without manager Neill Collins when they host Phoenix Rising FC in the USL Championship Final on Sunday night.

The league announced on Friday that Collins, assistant coach Kevin Foley and another member on the club’s covered persons list tested positive for COVID-19 and will be forced to miss the title match.

Tampa Bay assistant coaches Stuart Dobson and Chad Burt will lead the team in Collins’ absence.

“While I’ve been following all of the COVID-19 protocols, I do not know how I contracted COVID,” Collins said via Zoom on Friday. “And with a virus as highly contagious as this one, it might be impossible to determine.”

After receiving the positive results, all other Rowdies players, staff and executives underwent urgent rapid testing at the Tampa Bay Ray’s medical facility.

Following the rapid testing results, no additional positives were reported. All members of the Rowdies covered persons list will be retested on Saturday.

Here is a full timeline of the week as it pertains to both clubs’ COVID-19 testing:

“I feel horrible for Neill,” Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz said via Zoom on Friday. “Knowing what it’s like to miss an important match and to be watching either at home or from somewhere else other than the bench is very, very difficult.

“Earlier I sent him a message and he responded that he knows he’ll come out of this stronger on the other side and I 100% guarantee that it’ll make him a better man and a better coach.”

On Thursday, USL announced that Friday night’s League One Final was canceled after multiple individuals within Union Omaha tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, Greenville Triumph was named the 2020 League One Title-Winners based on points per game.

Phoenix Rising takes on Tampa Bay in the 2020 Championship Final on Sunday night at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted live ESPN 620 AM, on ArizonaSports.com and the new Arizona Sports app.