Tampa Bay Rowdies midfielder Joe Cole scoops NASL Player of the Week award

Aston Villa's Joe Cole applauds fans

The ex-Aston Villa playmaker scored one and set up another in Saturday's 2-0 victory at Minnesota United FC.

Coventry's Joe Cole

Joe Cole may only be three games into his Tampa Bay Rowdies career, but he’s already making a big impact for the US second-tier side.

The 34-year-old midfielder, who joined the Rowdies from Coventry City earlier this month, grabbed a goal and an assist on the weekend at Minnesota United FC to secure Stuart Campbell’s men a 2-0 win and earn the NASL Player of the Week award for his performance.

"It's great to receive this recognition,” Cole told rowdiessoccer.com. “It's been a good start for me here. It's been difficult because of the travel and climate, but Coach Campbell and my teammates have been brilliant with me. It was great for us to get the win and I'm very happy to contribute however I can."

Minnesota hadn't conceded at home all season going into last weekend’s clash with the Rowdies, but Cole ended that streak three minutes before half-time when he opened the scoring with his first NASL goal, getting onto the end of a cross from fellow midfielder Kalif Alhassan and nodding the ball into the back of the net.

The former England playmaker then showcased his creativity just after the break by setting up the second, dribbling through the opposition midfield before finding Eric Avila on the edge of the box with a pinpoint pass that his teammate buried past the goalkeeper.

Tampa Bay now sit sixth in the NASL Spring Season table on 12 points – only two behind second-placed Indy Eleven and six behind league leaders New York Cosmos with eight games gone – and head coach Campbell has been delighted with the impact Cole has made in his first three appearances for the club.

"Joe was very influential in the game on Saturday, scoring a goal and creating another,” the ex-Leicester City midfielder told rowdiessoccer.com. “He's had a real positive impact on our team since he arrived, and he has fit in perfectly.

"It's a credit to him because of his professionalism, but it's a credit to his teammates as well for the way they've welcomed him and helped him along."

Aston Villa's Joe Cole in action

Cole played 22 times for Coventry this past season after joining the Sky Blues from Midlands neighbours Aston Villa in October on an initial loan deal which was later made permanent, recording two goals and six assists for the League One side.

The former West Ham United and Chelsea star’s contract with the Rowdies runs through the end of the 2017 NASL season, with a club option for 2018, but he has revealed that he could return to the Ricoh Arena on loan next winter once the current campaign comes to a conclusion.

“Who’s to say that that’s the end of the story?” Cole told the Coventry Observer before making his move to the US. “I’m coming back from America for three-four months, I’ve spoken to the gaffer and although it’s a long way off, a lot can happen between now and then but I’m comfortable at Coventry.

“The club has taken me in with open arms, the fans, the manager and the players so who’s to say the story ends here. The way they’ve taken to me the club will always be in my heart now and who knows what’s round the corner.”

Coventry City's Joe Cole

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch