Five matches into the NASL Spring Season, the Rowdies see themselves tied for first place in the standings with eight points alongside Carolina and Minnesota. With a record of 2-2-1 (W-T-L), Tampa Bay has replicated their start of the 2012 season, in which they lifted the NASL Soccer Bowl Trophy in October.
“We have played good football at the start of this season, which I always try to demand from my side,” commented Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “Looking at the games so far at home, we are disappointed by not having more points as I believe our form has proved that we deserved them particularly against Carolina and Edmonton.”
After starting last season with a 1-0 defeat in Puerto Rico, the Rowdies would win their home opener against FC Edmonton to start a four game unbeaten streak. Tampa Bay would tie Carolina at home and then travel to Atlanta where they picked up another point. After two straight draws, Tampa Bay returned to Al Lang Stadium to defeat in-state rivals Ft. Lauderdale Strikers by a score of 3-1. At that point of the season, the Rowdies had extended their unbeaten streak to four games and were now tied for second place in the NASL standings with eight points.
The eight points the Rowdies have attained this season place them in a three-way tie for first place. While last year the Rowdies saw it difficult to pick up points away from home, this year has proved to be the opposite. Tampa Bay has claimed all six possible road points, picking up their first-ever win in San Antonio on April 13th and then continuing their recent dominance over the Strikers with a 2-1 win on April 27th. The two wins prove to be the best away record in the NASL this season.
“It is very pleasing to win our first two league road games,” said Hill. “In both matches the team has shown great resolve and determination to come away with the three points. We seem to be more compact as a side away from home, since sometimes at Al Lang we are pressing to try to score goals to give our fans the win.”
The success in away matches however has not been replicated at home where the Rowdies are 0-2-1, yet to record their first home win this season. The reigning NASL Champions have also been able to overcome a series of injuries in the first five matches that have forced head Coach Ricky Hill to change the lineups on several occasions.
“It’s great that members of the squad have stepped up early on in the season,” Hill explained. “It is a great chance for some players who were not getting as many minutes as the starters to prove themselves on the pitch. We are looking forward to having our full complement of players to choose from shortly.”
After the Rowdies enjoy their first of two bye weeks this season, they will travel to Minnesota to play a home-and-home series against the newly branded Minnesota United FC. This will be the first time both teams meet since they last played in the second leg of the NASL Soccer Bowl Finals on October 27th. That match saw the Rowdies come away victorious after a nerve racking penalty shootout.
These two matches could prove decisive in determining the 2013 NASL Spring Season, with the first match on Saturday, May 18 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Rowdies will then host Minnesota on Saturday, May 25 at Al Lang Stadium. For information on 2013 season tickets or individual tickets contact the front office at 813-287-1539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|