Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Sports

Rowdies kick off NASL's fall schedule at home

ST. PETERSBURG — It's not quite a marathon, the fall season the Rowdies embark upon tonight at Al Lang, but Tampa Bay will welcome it compared to the sprint that was the 10-game spring slate.

"To be polite, it's unique," Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said of the NASL's regular-season format that allows the spring champion, in this case Indy Eleven, an automatic playoff spot after just 10 games.

That's 10 out of a 32-game schedule. The fall is a true round-robin where every squad faces the other home and away.

"The second part of the season is more customary to how leagues, how the rest of the world operates, while the first 10 really is a sprint," Campbell said. "In any other league it's not until the 10-15 mark where things start to take shape."

And the top of the NASL is one big clump. Indy pulled off the spring title in dramatic fashion, needing to win by three goals in its finale to gain the tiebreaker over New York and beating Carolina 4-1, but only four points separated the top seven teams. Indy distinguished itself by not losing, but had six draws and only 11 goals until that last outing.

Tampa Bay (4-2-4) has 16 points, two behind Indy, overall. Indy, the fall champ and the two teams with the next most overall points qualify for the postseason.

Puerto Rico joins the league — it visits Al Lang on July 16 — and in all likelihood will have to win the fall to make the playoffs.

While there is plenty of time to sort matters, the Rowdies still want to get off to a strong fall start. It begins against Jacksonville, the same Armada side that Tampa Bay tied 1-1 to close the spring slate.

Unlike the Rowdies, Jacksonville took advantage of the most intended purpose of the split-season format, to coincide with the international transfer window. Jacksonville signed a Swedish duo (Alexander Andersson, Nicklas Maripuu) and got two MLS players on loan (midfielder Zach Steinberger, Houston; defender Karl Ouimette, New York Red Bulls).

Not to say the Rowdies won't follow suit at some point.

"I'm happy with what we've got but always looking to improve," Campbell said. "Overall, you take a step back. I'm disappointed we couldn't finish in first place but we're in a good place. I feel like we have a good squad."

Tampa Bay's acquisition of Joe Cole, a three-time World Cup player for England and three-time Premier League champion, has been enormous. Cole has controlled the midfield and been tireless, playing all but the final 12 minutes of five contests.

The biggest offseason pickup on offense, Tommy Heinemann, scored just twice after garnering 18 goals the past two seasons in Ottawa, where he was that franchise's all-time leading scorer. He found himself switched to a reserve role of late, sitting out one game completely and entering as a sub on three occasions.

That's far more action than Freddy Adu has seen as the most recognizable name on the roster. He hasn't even made the substitute list, aside from the U.S. Open Cup. His exclusion has been a mystery to many fans but speaks to the depth of the roster.

Tampa Bay's stay in the Cup lasted two games, ending in a 4-0 loss June 15 at Columbus. Last weekend Campbell put the players through the ringer of a full scrimmage and feels they are ready to resume.

And gladly, with a 7:30 kickoff. The June 11 game in Jacksonville was played at 4 p.m. in brutally hot conditions.

"Oh my life, I much rather we play at night," Campbell said. "I was struggling, and I'm on the sidelines. We needed the rest physically, but more important mentally."

Comments
Georgia Tech preparing for its day in the (Tampa) sun

Georgia Tech preparing for its day in the (Tampa) sun

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The two Georgia Tech players who appeared Wednesday at the ACC Kickoff were smart enough not to speak at length about their Sept. 8 game at USF, considering they have a Sept. 1 game against Alcorn State.But be assured, the Bul...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Captain’s Corner: Finding fish on bottom structure of gulf

Finding fish on the bottom structure of the Gulf of Mexico this summer has been up and down for our spearfishermen. In late spring and early summer, the fish migrated to their normal areas, then they changed up. Grouper stayed in the shallow water lo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Speaking frank-ly, Mark Richt declares Malik Rosier UM’s starting QB

Speaking frank-ly, Mark Richt declares Malik Rosier UM’s starting QB

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On National Hot Dog Day, of all days, Mark Richt again was in rare gastronomical form.Miami's third-year coach, who captivated a media audience at last year's ACC Kickoff by diagramming how to eat a sandwich in 10 bites, volun...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Remember last year, when the opening credits to "Hard Knocks" showed DeSean Jackson pulling up to Bucs training camp in a white Ferrari 488 GTB, which starts around $250,000?Training camp doesn't start until next week, but we have an early leader for...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Must-see golf history with Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome

Must-see golf history with Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome

Thursday is history.There is no way around it, even for Brittany Lincicome, who loves finding her way around it. That's just her. She played with boys growing up, neighborhood football and basketball, baseball — and golf. I remember when she wa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays place Wilson Ramos on DL for potential extended absence, seek replacement

Rays place Wilson Ramos on DL for potential extended absence, seek replacement

ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays made the inevitable move Wednesday of placing catcher Wilson Ramon on the DL while still looking for a replacement.Ramos strained his left hamstring Saturday in Minnesota, forcing him out of the All-Star Game. The Rays...
Updated: 3 hours ago
‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

When Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, one of the lingering questions was whether the team would still feature him prominently in their marketing efforts to fans.The team released four sho...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays reinstate discount pizza promotion with Papa John’s after corporate action

Rays reinstate discount pizza promotion with Papa John’s after corporate action

The Rays reinstated the discount pizza promotion with Papa John's based on actions taken by corporate officials after the ouster of founder John Schnatter following reports he used a racial slur.The Rays had suspended the promotion, which offers half...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Dan Mullen’s old team will be better than his new one. That’s a good thing

Dan Mullen’s old team will be better than his new one. That’s a good thing

ATLANTA — The difference between where the Gators are and where they could be showed up in back-to-back days behind a podium at the College Football Hall of Fame.On Tuesday, first-year Florida coach Dan Mullen said the program he inherited...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Revis Island is closed for business. Darrelle Revis, a star cornerback with the New York Jets, a Super Bowl winner with their archrivals, the New England Patriots, and a onetime Buc, has retired. Revis announced Wednesday on social media that he was ...
Updated: 4 hours ago