Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rowdies aim for regular-season NASL title

With a little less than two months to go in the regular season and eight games remaining, the Rowdies have all but secured a place among the top six in the NASL standings to qualify for the postseason.

Should Tampa Bay win its next two matches, starting tonight against the Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Field, and both Edmonton and Atlanta lose or tie their next two matches, the Rowdies could clinch a playoff berth Aug. 19 after their game at league-leading San Antonio.

Wins shouldn't be hard to come by. The Rowdies have collected seven in their past nine games. So with a playoff spot virtually a foregone conclusion, the Rowdies' focus has shifted toward loftier goals.

One is finishing in the top two in the regular season, thus earning a bye into the semifinal round of the playoffs and skipping the single-game quarterfinal round.

Last year Tampa Bay entered the playoffs as the third seed, but its playoff run lasted one game, a 1-0 loss to eventual champion Minnesota.

A bye would guarantee at least two playoff games for the Rowdies. The semifinals and final are two-game, home-and-away series.

"Last year I was in the playoffs with Minnesota, and we only just snuck into the playoffs," said Rowdies forward Luke Mulholland, who scored the goal for Minnesota that knocked Tampa Bay out of the postseason.

"We snuck in (as) a No. 6 seed by one point in front of Montreal, and we took that momentum and won five games in a row and automatically were then playoff champions."

Since the re-emergence of Tampa Bay's franchise in 2010, the final team to qualify for the playoffs in the Rowdies' league has won the championship each season.

Before Minnesota did it in the NASL a year ago, Puerto Rico entered the 2010 USSF Division 2 playoffs as the eighth seed, 17 points behind league leader Rochester, but knocked off the Rhinos in the opening round en route to the title.

Mulholland said he would have rather played for Carolina's regular-season championship squad last season than his Minnesota team, citing superiority over a 28-game stretch as a bigger achievement than superiority over a five-game playoff run.

"It's bittersweet, though, when you win the regular season and then lose in the playoffs," Mulholland said. "But I'll say this, if (the Rowdies) do win the regular season, I'm going to celebrate it like we won the World Cup. That's my mentality."

And that's the Rowdies' ultimate goal. With eight games to go and only two points separating them from league-leading San Antonio, the Rowdies believe the regular-season championship is well within its reach.

"That's the way I've been brought up: It's about the course of the season," said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill, who will serve a one-game suspension tonight following his second-half ejection Aug. 4 at Carolina. He stepped onto the field to argue the location of a Carolina throw-in that resulted in the RailHawks' third goal in 3-3 draw.

"I want us to be the best team in the league over the course of the season through our efforts and through our work and through our victories. That's what we aim for every week."

. Tonight

Rowdies vs. Atlanta

When/where: 7:30; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg

Records: Rowdies 10-6-4 (34 points); Atlanta 4-11-5 (17)

Standings: The Rowdies are tied for second with Puerto Rico. If the playoffs began today, the Islanders would be the No. 2 seed on the first tiebreaker, goal differential. The Rowdies are plus-5; Puerto Rico is plus-7. …Atlanta is in last (eighth) place.

Notable: The Rowdies signed forward Carl Cort on Friday to try to offset the loss of Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, who was transferred to Yokohama FC Hong Kong last week. Cort, from London, played five seasons (2000-04) for Newcastle of the English Premier League and most recently for League One side Brentford (2009-11). The 6-foot-4, 172 pound Cort is on the Guyanese national team with Rowdies defender J.P. Rodrigues.

Tampa Bay Rowdies aim for regular-season NASL title 08/10/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 10, 2012 10:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

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


    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.
  2. 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.
  3. Signs point to Jameis Winston dressing vs. Bills


    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.

  4. FSU doesn't feel need for ongoing reminder of last year's beatdown at Louisville


    Of course Florida State remembers what happened against Louisville last year. The 63-20 loss was one of the worst defeats in Seminoles history.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson looks back at the action from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Murray State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  5. Goodell: NFL not changing its national anthem policy


    NEW YORK — In the face of fan unrest and accusations from the president about the league being unpatriotic, the NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand.

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference, Wednesday in New York. [AP Photo/Julie Jacobson]