Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sports

Rowdies have tough trek ahead

ST. PETERSBURG — Over the past two weeks, the Rowdies have logged travel miles like a touring rock band.

Starting with a trip June 2 to the North American Soccer League's farthest outpost in Edmonton, the Rowdies accumulated more than 11,000 miles through the air in 13 days.

The trip to Edmonton, which connected through Atlanta, was followed by a direct flight to Raleigh, N.C., for Saturday's league match at Carolina. On Tuesday, the Rowdies flew to Portland, Ore., again through Atlanta, for their fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match against the Timbers. Then they returned to Tampa on Thursday, though in three groups as a flight that could accommodate the entire team was unavailable.

All of the travel has disrupted the practice schedule. The team held an abbreviated training session Monday before departing for Portland. On Thursday, which normally would have been used to prepare for the weekend's upcoming league match, was spent traveling. And Friday's practice was cut an hour short to rest the players' road-weary legs.

"With Cup football, you reward yourself by getting to the next round, but you're also hurting your league performance as well at times," midfielder Luke Mulholland said. "(Coach) Ricky (Hill) does a good job reading people's bodies and not overworking us in training so we're fresh for the games, but it takes a toll."

The Rowdies went 0-2-1 on their longest road swing of the season and lost two matches in a row for the first time since June last year. They'll try to regain their form tonight against San Antonio at Al Lang Stadium, the team's first home game since the historic victory over Seattle (May 29) that seems so long ago.

"We've hit an unlucky patch right now," Mulholland said. "Hopefully, we'll start to get a little more luck on our side, the ball will bounce our way for a change."

With three games left in the NASL spring season and league-leading Carolina ahead by three points with a game in hand, the Rowdies can't afford any more missteps. A loss tonight coupled with a Carolina victory over Edmonton on Sunday would virtually eliminate the Rowdies from contending for the spring season championship.

In that scenario, the best the Rowdies could do is tie Carolina for the title. The first tiebreaker is goal differential. Currently, the Rowdies are plus-one. Carolina is plus-five.

"Credit to the players, they've never used anything as an excuse regarding travel or fatigue," Hill said. "They come to work focused every day. With that said, we have to now go on our best run. Anything less than that and it'll be slightly impossible that we'll finish first in the spring season."

Eliminated from the Cup competition after the 2-0 loss at Portland of MLS, the Rowdies return to some level of normalcy for the remainder of the spring season with three matches in a 20-day period. Two of the final three are at Al Lang, where the Rowdies have yet to win in league play. Both home matches (San Antonio, Fort Lauderdale) are against the teams occupying last place in the league standings.

Sandwiched between those home contests is a road match at Atlanta, a team the Rowdies led 3-1 before allowing three unanswered goals in a 4-3 loss.

"I'm pleased with the level of performance this season," Hill said. "I'm pleased with the level of focus, concentration, fitness and desire. I'm just hoping that (tonight) we get that little bit of luck that every team needs, that luck that we didn't get on Wednesday."

. Tonight

Rowdies vs. San Antonio

When/where: 7:30; Al Lang Stadium

Records: Rowdies 3-3-3 (12 points, fourth); San Antonio 2-4-2 (8, tied sixth)

Tickets: Box office (opens at 4:30), rowdiessoccer.com or (813) 287-1539

Notes: M Shane Hill was suspended two games by the league for a skirmish after Saturday's loss to Carolina. The Rowdies are appealing but won't learn the outcome until Wednesday. … D Andres Arango, red-carded vs. Carolina, also will have to sit out. D Jordan Gafa, normally a right back, will switch to left in Arango's absence.

Comments
D’Ernest Johnson hopes to showcase versatility at East-West Shrine Game

D’Ernest Johnson hopes to showcase versatility at East-West Shrine Game

On a cloudless, brisk St. Petersburg afternoon, D'Ernest Johnson lined up deep in the backfield, darted to the right flat and snagged a short Riley Ferguson pass.Within a matter of minutes, he snagged another. Suddenly, it was 2016 all over again for...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tony Perez, Dick Allen to highlight    Ted Williams museum inductions

Tony Perez, Dick Allen to highlight Ted Williams museum inductions

Hall of Famer Tony Perez and longtime Phillies/White Sox star Dick Allen will be inducted into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame next month in Clearwater.Former Yankees Cy Young Award winner Ron Guidry and longtime Astros ace J.R. Richard also wi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Warriors keep Cavaliers reeling

Warriors keep Cavaliers reeling

CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant scored 32, Stephen Curry added 23 and the Warriors won their 13th straight road game with a 118-108 Martin Luther King holiday victory Monday night over the Cavaliers, their struggling NBA Finals foes. Durant scored 16 in the...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Kerber continues to play well

Kerber continues to play well

MELBOURNE, Australia — Former champion Angelique Kerber continued her resurgent run with a 6-0, 6-4 win over fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam to reach the second round of the Australian Open early today. Kerber raced through the first set in 17 minut...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

CORAL GABLES — Gary Trent scored a season-high 30 and No. 5 Duke needed less than three minutes to erase a 13-point second-half deficit, scoring 18 consecutive points to overtake No. 25 Miami 83-75 on Monday night. The Blue Devils scored 15 in six po...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Seguin sends Stars past Bruins in OT

Seguin sends Stars past Bruins in OT

BOSTON — Former Bruins first-round draft pick Tyler Seguin, hearing it from his old fans, scored on a delayed penalty in overtime to lead the Stars to a 3-2 victory over Boston on Monday. Boston rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and earn a...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Hillsborough TE/LS Wilson Morse this year’s Bill Minahan scholarship recipient

Hillsborough TE/LS Wilson Morse this year’s Bill Minahan scholarship recipient

TAMPA — The fourth annual pick for the Bill Minahan Award was a tough choice indeed.It came down to five Hillsborough County football players — Hillsborough's Wilson Morse, Berkeley Prep's Nicholas Petit-Frere, Gaither's Camden Roth, Stei...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballWisconsin at Purdue7 p.m.ESPNLouisville at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPN2Georgia at LSU7 p.m.ESPNUVanderbilt at Mississippi State7 p.m.SECClemson at North Carolina7 p.m.Fox SunCincinnati at UCF7 p.m.CBSSNWomen: Michigan at Ohio State7 p...
Updated: 10 hours ago

MAKING NEWSMCCUTCHEN JOINS LONGO IN SAN FRANCISCOAfter acquiring 3B Evan Longoria from the Rays, the Giants deal for another franchise face, getting Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen. 6CVikings’ kneel helps Saints coverVikings fans were celebrating, but in...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Sports in brief

BASEBALLGIANTS ACQUIRE PIRATES STAR MCCUTCHENSAN FRANCISCO — The Giants found the outfielder they were looking for this winter, acquiring Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates on Monday less than a month after dealing for Rays longtime 3B Evan Longoria. ...
Updated: 10 hours ago