Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Evaluating the Tampa Bay Rowdies at midseason

ST. PETERSBURG

The Tampa Bay Rowdies enter the annual July 4 Florida derby against bitter rival Fort Lauderdale at Al Lang Field having won three matches in a row and jumping from fifth place in the NASL standings to third.

With the regular season halfway complete — the Rowdies have played 14 of 28 league matches — now is the time to examine what went right for the Rowdies in the first half of the season, and what to look forward to in the second.

Best performance (team)

Rowdies 3, San Antonio 2 at Al Lang (June 23): The Scorpions came to St. Petersburg at the top of the NASL and in the midst of a nine-match league unbeaten streak. Tampa Bay entered having lost three of its previous four but showed resiliency a week earlier in rallying to win at Minnesota. Against San Antonio, the Rowdies displayed even greater resolve. Twice, the Rowdies responded from a goal down amidst a steady downpour courtesy of Tropical Storm Debby. Keith Savage and Luke Mulholland had tying goals — Mulholland's came in the 88th minute — and Tsuyoshi Yoshitake capped the comeback with the winner in second-half stoppage time to send Al Lang into hysterics. "It was a real team effort from the whole squad," Tampa Bay coach Ricky Hill said.

Honorable mention

Rowdies 2, Minnesota 1 at NSC Stadium (June 16)

Rowdies 3, Fort Lauderdale 1 at Al Lang (April 28)

First half MVP

F Tsuyoshi Yoshitake: To gauge the Japanese product's indispensability, look at Tampa Bay's record in matches Yoshitake has missed. After suffering a chest injury in a brutal collision May 19 in Atlanta, Yoshitake missed three league matches and the Rowdies lost twice and tied once. With Yoshitake's return, the Rowdies have won three in a row against quality opponents. Yoshitake has four goals in those three games and leads the Rowdies in goals (five) and points (12).

Honorable mention

D Takuya Yamada

F Luke Mulholland

Best performance (individual)

F Daniel Antoniuk, two goals at Atlanta (May 19): Playing against one of his former teams, Antoniuk scored two first-half goals and barely missed a few other chances to key a 3-2 win, the team's first road win of the season. The Philadelphia native scored in the 12th minute after a nice feed over the top from M Shane Hill. He added goal No. 2 in the 37th minute, burying M Keith Savage's header pass past Atlanta GK Daniel Illyes. Antoniuk was named NASL offensive player of the week two days later.

Honorable mention

F Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, two goals vs. San Antonio (June 23)

GK Jeff Attinella, eight saves, shutout vs. FC Edmonton (April 14)

Biggest surprise

D Daniel Scott: Hawaii-born Scott used J.P. Rodrigues' call up to the Guyana National Team as a means to break into the top 11 and has since started the past four games. Now, with Rodrigues back, a defense with Scott and Rodrigues in the center and Takuya Yamada and Frankie Sanfilippo on the sides has produced three straight wins. Hill is pragmatic in his player selections; if the team wins, he won't tinker with the lineup. So expect to see more of Scott in the season's second half.

Honorable mention

D Draymond Washington's play as an attacking left back

F Luke Mulholland's quality in his first full NASL season

. Tonight

Rowdies vs. Fort Lauderdale

When/where: 6:30; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg

Light up the bay: Fans are invited to come onto the field and watch the City of St. Petersburg's fireworks display from the outfield grass following the match.

Records: Rowdies 6-5-3 (21 points); Fort Lauderdale 5-5-4 (19 points)

Last time: Tampa Bay beat Minnesota 2-0 Saturday at Al Lang. Fort Lauderdale halted Carolina's four-game league win streak with a 2-1 win at Lockhart Stadium.

Notes: Rowdies G Jeff Attinella won the NASL's Defensive Player of the Week award for the second time this season following his clean sheet against Minnesota. … Since the return of the Tampa Bay franchise in 2010, the team has lost only once to Fort Lauderdale in 10 matches. … Rowdies F Mike Ambersley has three goals this season, all game winners.

Comments
Winter Olympics: U.S. women end speed-skating medal drought

Winter Olympics: U.S. women end speed-skating medal drought

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Mia Manganello crossed the finish line, glanced at the video board and yelled. She then grabbed hands with American teammates Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe, and the trio thrust their arms in the air. The Americans had re...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

PORT CHARLOTTE — Going against popular opinion, here's an odd thought to ponder:What if the Rays actually know what they're doing?The deal agreed to Wednesday afternoon with veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez — one year for a, hefty for them...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Winter Olympics: U.S. wins first gold medal in women’s cross-country skiing

Winter Olympics: U.S. wins first gold medal in women’s cross-country skiing

DAEGWALLYEONG, South Korea — The unattainable had become inevitable, and Kikkan Randall started screaming at the top of her lungs. She was standing under the lights, at the finish line of Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Center, imploring her team sprin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
USF women top Houston, clinch AAC tourney’s No. 2 seed

USF women top Houston, clinch AAC tourney’s No. 2 seed

Initially flustered by Houston's pressure and pace, the 18th-ranked USF women rallied Wednesday night in two simple steps.First, they settled themselves down, then shut the Cougars down.Down by 10 in the first half, the Bulls stormed back for a criti...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hey Rays, this is no way to build a ballpark

Hey Rays, this is no way to build a ballpark

PORT CHARLOTTE _ It was another morning after at Charlotte Sports Park and Rays Bargain Clearance Barn.  This time it's Steven Souza, man of a thousand faces. He gone.What else is new at the incredible shrinking baseball team?It's spring trainin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

This isn't the first time Brentson Buckner has wanted to get closer to the Bucs defensive line.As a defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers, Buckner's team went 7-9 in 2002, the inaugural season for the NFC South.Tampa Bay won the division, and wh...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The entire Lightning team was sent to Syracuse late Tuesday. Really

The entire Lightning team was sent to Syracuse late Tuesday. Really

On Tuesday night, the entire Lightning team was reassigned to Syracuse.Well, more like re-directed.The team's charter flight from Washington D.C. was diverted around midnight Tuesday night due to fog in Ottawa, where the Lightning was headed for a Th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

PORT CHARLOTTE — 2B Nick Solak reported to camp Wednesday, while LHP Anthony Banda, the other player acquired in the Steven Souza Jr. trade, is on his way.Banda, whose fastball hits the mid-90s, pitched in eight games last season with the Diamo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

PORT CHARLOTTE – Dick Vitale, the Rays most visible and, as of late, vocal fan, took to Twitter and the 620-AM airwaves Wednesday morning and later in the day in a phone call to the Times to blast his local baseball team.ESPN's lead college bas...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays moved quickly to fill the void created by Tuesday's trade of RF Steven Souza Jr., agreeing to a one-year deal Wednesday afternoon with veteran OF Carlos Gomez.The deal, pending a physical, will pay Gomez $4-million...
Updated: 7 hours ago