Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cox impresses on attack for Rowdies

Raphael Cox, middle, taking a shot Saturday against Carolina, says his role is to play where coach Ricky Hill wants him.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Raphael Cox, middle, taking a shot Saturday against Carolina, says his role is to play where coach Ricky Hill wants him.

Raphael Cox has carved a pretty impressive niche as a jack-of-all-trades during his three-year NASL career.

Related News/Archive

The 26-year-old was signed by the Rowdies from Atlanta in August and played the final six games of the 2012 regular season as a midfielder.

During the second game of the NASL championship final against Minnesota, Cox was asked to play left back with injuries to starting defenders Takuya Yamada and J.P. Rodrigues, and he performed well enough that the team kept him there throughout much of this year's preseason.

In the season opener against Carolina on Saturday, Cox was listed as a midfield/forward on coach Ricky Hill's lineup card. With his high work rate, he was a nuisance for RailHawks defenders to contain in the 0-0 tie.

"My role is to play wherever Ricky feels that I best fit," Cox said. "I'm more comfortable in an attacking role, but I think that's what also makes me versatile in the back, because I can attack from there as well."

Cox started his career as a left back when he was selected in the fourth round of the MLS draft in 2009 by Real Salt Lake. When he moved to Atlanta, he started in the midfield before being pushed into defense out of necessity.

Ideally, Hill would like to keep Cox in the attacking midfield role he played against Carolina.

"I think on Saturday we saw his real quality when he was pushed up a little bit further, which he hasn't had many opportunities to play since he's joined us last year — maybe twice, I would hazard a guess," Hill said. "So for him to play on Saturday in the manner that he did was very, very pleasing."

That means finding a permanent left back will continue to be an issue. Andres Arango got the starting nod against Carolina and performed well, but his natural position, Hill said, is in central defense. A third option could be Yamada.

"(Yamada) is an outstanding left back, but I think his value is in central defense for us," Hill said. "The middle of the pitch is the most important, because that's where the goals are."

Realignment? The Rowdies came out in a 4-4-2 formation against Carolina, but it really was a 4-2-2-2, Hill said, with the two wide midfielders playing in an advanced position of the two central midfielders, who acted as a protective shield in front of the back four. Cox and Evans Frimpong excelled in the wide midfield role, continually finding space and making dangerous crosses.

"We didn't get any rewards for it in terms of goals," Hill said. "But we had a lot of nice movements at certain periods."

Hill also brought up the possibility of moving one of the forwards back slightly and playing a 4-2-3-1.

"We may tinker a bit away from home," he said.

Injury updates: Don't expect to see forwards Mike Ambersley and Carl Cort for at least another two games, Hill said. Ambersley (knee/MCL sprain) has run more in training but is still at least a week from a full practice. Cort (calf/slight tear) also has been participating in basic fitness training but avoiding high-impact activities. The former English Premier League player has been hampered by injuries in the past, but there is a silver lining to his latest.

"The good thing is it's not an injury that's plagued him persistently over his career," Hill said.

M Keith Savage (knee/meniscus tear) is available for Saturday's match at San Antonio, having trained for the past week with no setbacks. Savage was on the bench but didn't participate in the season opener.

. Fast facts

Rowdies

at San Antonio

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Toyota Field, San Antonio, Texas

Records: Tampa Bay 0-0-1 (1 point); San Antonio 0-0-1 (1 point)

Online: rowdiessoccer.com

Info: The Rowdies were 1-3 against the Scorpions last season, including two losses in San Antonio by a combined 6-0 score. … Both games in San Antonio last season were on an artificial surface. San Antonio has switched to natural grass this season in an 8,500-seat soccer-specific stadium it will debut against the Rowdies. …M Shane Hill will return to the Rowdies after serving a one-game suspension against Carolina in the season opener on Saturday. Hill received a red card in the final game of last season's NASL championship series that carried over.

Cox impresses on attack for Rowdies 04/10/13 [Last modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick and Tom podcast: Where does Winston rank among top QBs?

    Blogs

    Where does Bucs QB Jameis Winston rank among current NFL QBs this year? The result might shock you. Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down a new poll by Sports Illustrated in their latest podcast.

    Where does Jameis Winston rank among the NFL's top quarterbacks?
  2. Cubs down Dodgers 3-2; force NLCS Game 5 Thursday

    Ml

    CHICAGO — Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, former Ray Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

  3. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  4. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  5. Signs point to Jameis Winston dressing vs. Bills

    Sports

    TAMPA — The Bucs didn't sign another quarterback Wednesday, which would suggest they are confident that Jameis Winston can be active as a backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday at Buffalo if he doesn't start.