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Rowdies defender reflects on making 100 appearances for the team

Tampa Bay captain Aaron Guillen won two Eastern Conference championships with Tampa Bay in 2020 and 2021.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Wednesday was a bittersweet evening for Tampa Bay Rowdies defender Aaron Guillen. 

On a day that should have ended with a better ending to celebrate the Rowdies captain making his 100th appearance for the club, Guillen felt more concerned about Tampa Bay's poor start to the season rather than embracing his recent accomplishment.

"I don't think it was our best performance," he said after the Rowdies' stoppage time 2-1 loss against the Charleston Battery. "We got to think of what we can do better when we're out on the field. We need to look at ourselves in the mirror, every single player.

"Everyone needs to perform on the field whoever it is that the coaching staff is putting out there."

Despite reflecting on what the team has to do to rack up some wins moving forward, the 29-year-old made sure to acknowledge his historic achievement.

The Mexican defender also raved about the treatment he has received from the Rowdies since he joined ahead of the 2020 season.

"It's not the way I wanted to celebrate my 100th game but the way the city, the club, the staff, [and] the players treat me and my family, it's our home," Guillen said. "We love the city and it's a great experience that I've had here for the past three and a half years now. I'm hopefully looking forward to many more games."

Guillen is now the fourth Tampa Bay player in the last three seasons to reach the centurion milestone, following Leo Fernandes, Lucky Mkosana and former Rowdies striker Sebastian Guenzatti. However, the 29-year-old is the only player that was recruited and signed by current head coach Neil Collins to reach 100 appearances.

"He's been the model of consistency for us," Collins said. "He's been a real stalwart for us at the back. He's good on the ball, able to bring the ball out of the back, very quick, good defender and very versatile as well.

"He's certainly met our expectations in this period of the club and can be part of things moving forward, but I'm sure he would much rather have marked [his achievement] in a different fashion."

Guillen has won two Eastern Conference championships with Tampa Bay in 2020 and 2021 but could not get his hands on the USL Championship trophy after the Rowdies lost 3-1 in the 2021 final.  

Before his time with the Rowdies, Guillen played collegiate soccer with Florida Gulf Coast University and then signed a homegrown deal with MLS club FC Dallas. He also spent two seasons with former USL side North Carolina FC, logging 58 appearances.

The next Rowdies player in line to make his 100th appearance for the team is midfielder Yann Ekra, who only needs one more game to complete the achievement.

Tampa Bay currently sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference after only winning one of its first six games this season. The team's next game is scheduled at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 23 at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg. For ticket information, click here.

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