Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Final home game of season on tap for the Rowdies

ST. PETERSBURG — Given the chance to take the playoff tradition of scoreboard watching one step further, Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell initially swore a nonstressful approach.

The majority of NASL games take place on Saturday nights, simultaneously, so Wednesday was special as rival Fort Lauderdale — the team Tampa Bay needs to catch to make the playoffs — was on TV and the Rowdies were idle.

"I tried to go with the plan of catching the result at halftime and then full time. That lasted about five minutes," Campbell said. "I'd like to say that I just enjoyed a nice cup of tea with the family, but it was not like that."

Instead Campbell gritted through the whole contest, hoping for last-place San Antonio to pull off a victory.

"I did not enjoy a single second. The game was 90 minutes, but it felt like three hours," Campbell said.

Much like with his Rowdies over the weeks-long playoff push, the result Campbell hoped for did not materialize.

It could have been worse, though, as the teams tied 0-0. With that, Tampa Bay enters the final two games of the season two points behind Fort Lauderdale for the last NASL playoff spot as the Rowdies prepare for tonight's home finale, against Carolina.

Tampa Bay's under-performance in the fall has left it in scoreboard-watching straits. The Rowdies missed the spring title by a mere point. Since then Tampa Bay has just four victories in 18 fall decisions, tied for worst with Indy, the team that hosts Fort Lauderdale tonight (San Antonio broke out of the tie for last with its point against the Strikers).

In its past seven outings, the Rowdies have never scored more than once, with four draws and no victories. Through 28 contests, only three players have more than three goals: Maicon Santos with seven, followed by four each from Darwin Espinal and Corey Hertzog.

Despite all of that, Campbell thinks the Rowdies can do damage, even if their point total would be well below the top seeds.

"Without a shadow of a doubt," he said. "I think the league is very tight, and it's been shown that on any day, any team can beat anybody else."

For example, Ottawa stands to be the No. 1 overall seed with a five-point lead over New York. Tampa Bay (36 points) has tied Ottawa (55) in all three meetings.

If Ottawa clinches the top seed this weekend, it could benefit the Rowdies. Tampa Bay finishes at New York on Oct. 31, and if the Cosmos are locked into the second spot, they might rest some starters.

Even if the Rowdies win twice, they'll need Fort Lauderdale to lose a game or draw twice. If the Rowdies go 1-0-1, a Fort Lauderdale victory eliminates Tampa Bay. And if Tampa Bay loses a game, it needs the Strikers to go 0-2 to make the playoffs.

"Forget about our playoff aspirations — we want to get three points for our fans. They deserve it more than anything," Campbell said.

Comments
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

The Rays are still talking about a lot of things as the winter meetings wrap up today, most importantly the potential trade of closer Alex Colome – and perhaps others, including Evan Longoria – to the Cardinals.First up is the Rule 5 draf...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings...
Updated: 4 hours ago

North shuts out South squad in Pinellas All-Star Football Classic

CLEARWATER — The players had so much fun, officials at Clearwater High School literally had to turn off the lights post-game to get everyone to go home.With more than 60 talented and motivated seniors participating in Wednesday's 23rd annu...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Reader Ken Kueker asked a great question yesterday:"If UCF beats Auburn in the Peach Bowl, what do you think of voting them #1 in your AP ranking?"My short answer is the obvious cop-out: It depends on how UCF looks (is it a triple-overtime win o...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

DETROIT — Brad Marchand assisted on the tying goal late in regulation and scored the winner 35 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday.The Bruins managed only two shots on goal in the first period but tw...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Market starting to set itself

Market starting to set itself

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 11 hours ago