On March 31, 2018 the Tampa Bay Rowdies traveled away to Louisville Slugger Field to take on Louisville City FC. Their mission was to continue their winning streak and walk away with another 3 points to put on the USL Eastern Table. As the first half started the Rowdies kept their formation and shape as they looked to be in the competition. However, all it took was one goal in the 69th minute via a pass from Paolo Delpiccolo to Oscar Jimenez, which he was able to put past the Rowdies keeper Cody Mizell. This went on to send some the Rowdies into a display of frustration from some of the core members in their roster. Perhaps it was due to the size of the field. Perhaps due to frustration of not having any real opportunities converted to goals, or it could simply be they felt they were not getting the calls they felt they deserved. Either way, the frustration showed more than the actual sport of football.
One instance of the focus on banter rather than the ball came in the 71st minute. It happened in the box when there was a collision that Neill Collins had with a Louisville City FC player Afterward he intentionally sent his head down and some words were exchanged while the opponent was on the ground and play was continuing. So rather than get back into form while there was a live ball, he was more worried about exchanging banter. Furthermore, Collins insisted on helping the opponent to his feet even though the help obviously was not requested or wanted.
The second instance came in the 81st minute and it was from another veteran of not only the club, but the world of football. Top notch footballer Marcel Shafer had some words with the opposition line as play continued on behind him rather than focusing on play creation. Was he fouled hard? Perhaps, but maybe he should let his manager worry about those situations and he should handle play creation when there is a live ball on the pitch.
The only real chance the Rowdies had came late in the match, during the final minute, where they almost equalized. Georgi Hristov connected with a ball in the box but just as it was about to go in past the line a Louisville City FC defender dove out in front to protect the ball from reaching the end of the net. Stuart Campbell has been quoted as saying, “I am gutted for the players as I believe they had a great performance and deserved at least a point.” Perhaps if the Rowdies were to focus on the match at hand instead of bickering with the opponent they could have at least walked away with one point. Instead they walk away empty handed and full of frustration as many of their fans hope they are not back to their regular away game style of the 2017 season. This style is being lucky to draw even if they start with the lead. If the Rowdies start getting used to walking away with 0 or 1 points, rather than 3 on away matches, this does not bode well for their USL Cup run. If the Rowdies were to only win the remaining 16 of the 17 home matches it may not be enough to fulfill their aspirations to achieve the USL Cup, let alone the possibility of not qualifying for the playoffs.
The Rowdies next match is at home at Al Lang Stadium as they will host Ottawa Fury FC. Ottawa Fury FC who currently sit 15 out of 16 in the Eastern Division Table for the USL prior to heading into the match on April 7th, 2018. The Rowdies are in 2nd place on the table and will be looking to redeem themselves in this match. Especially if they would like to continue their run for the USL Cup. Kick off is at 7:30p.m. and those in need of tickets can call 727-222-2000 for their local box office.
- Ryan Springer