ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The latest addition to the Tampa Bay Rowdies roster is causing some confusion in the locker room. The team signed defender Ian Antley to a 25-day contract last week. All of a sudden, the Rowdies were seeing double. Ian's identical twin brother Conner is already a defender on the squad.
Ian rehabbed a knee injury that ended his 2021 season with the Richmond Kickers. Now he's ready to make a good impression on the Rowdies staff. He's also pretty pumped to play alongside his brother.
"It’s fantastic. I never thought I’d get the opportunity," Ian said after Tuesday's training session. "But I worked hard to get back. The Tampa Bay Rowdies gave me an opportunity, so I capitalized on it. Now I play with Conner, which is a dream come true."
The 27-year-olds played college at Mercer University, but they went their separate ways in the pro ranks. Conner still can't believe how both of their careers have come full circle.
"I guess it’s kind of something we dreamed of when we were younger, I guess," he said. "I never thought that we would both make it to the same team and play together, but it’s definitely awesome."
Rowdies head coach Neill Collins has identical twin boys of his own. Despite his experience, he said he still confuses Conner and Ian.
"I’d be lying if I said I haven’t got them mixed up, because I've done it," Collins joked. "It must great to come and watch them. It certainly makes your life a lot easier, as well. But they should be really proud, and we’re delighted to have the pair of them."
Their coach isn't the only one who gets Conner and Ian mixed up. Conner laughed when he referred to his own parents having to correct themselves.
"Honestly, my mom still makes mistakes these days, so it’s… it’s difficult."
"It's completely okay. We know they're going to make mistakes like that," Ian grinned. "We look just alike. We forgive them for it."
Conner is three minutes older than Ian, a fact that Ian said Conner will never let him forget.
The Rowdies (11-3-6) have won four straight games, and they are unbeaten in their last ten. They'll host Atlanta United 2 (4-14-3) Saturday at Al Land Stadium. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.