Make us your home page
Instagram

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 balance Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, NASL ambitions

The Rowdies get back into spring season NASL action after advancing Wednesday in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a win.

DAVID W. DOONAN | Special to the Times

The Rowdies get back into spring season NASL action after advancing Wednesday in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a win.

ST. PETERSBURG — Cup competitions in soccer can be a tricky proposition. Out of necessity they intertwine with the regular season, and if a squad has a key game in three days, the cup contest can take a backseat.

So tonight's game at Al Lang Stadium offers a rare matchup: two teams riding momentum from their respective Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victories as the Rowdies host Ottawa in the penultimate NASL spring season contest for both.

It's the last home game of the spring for Tampa Bay, but the Rowdies know they'll play again shortly after the 10-game slate concludes. Tampa Bay got past Cincinnati of the third-tier United Soccer League 1-0 Wednesday, advancing to the fourth round where the Rowdies visit Columbus of MLS on June 15.

"Ten games, that's nothing, so we look forward to playing Columbus in Columbus and getting after them a little it," said Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens, who had a pretty big hand in Wednesday's victory. He faced 14 shots and had to work hard on many of them.

Georgi Hristov, who had one goal through eight NASL games, netted the winner, his fourth goal in U.S. Open Cup play. Pickens was part of a normal starting lineup fielded by Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell, who didn't want to disrupt what has been an improved level of play — and is a cup guy.

"A bit of both if I'm honest," he said. "I wanted to build momentum. The performances I feel have been pretty good so I wanted to keep that going, and from a selfish standpoint I love cup competitions. I had a little bit of success back in England with 'em, but zero success over here, as a player and as an assistant coach."

The win marked a second consecutive early lead held, coming off a 2-0 victory at Minnesota. The Rowdies (3-2-3, 12 points) sit in sixth place but just two points off second place Indy and Edmonton, with New York (18 points) looking to clinch the spring title today.

Pickens was glad Campbell went with the full lineup approach.

"I think that was a good thing," he said. "With the good performance in Minnesota, I think it was kind of important that we kept it together … sometimes when you take a lot of guys out of the lineup, come Saturday maybe it looks a little bit different and the chemistry just isn't there."

Ottawa (2-4-2) sits eighth in the NASL with eight points but is riding high after a season-best crowd of 9,000 watched the Fury knock off MLS Vancouver in the Canadian Championship. The second semifinal leg is next week in Vancouver. The Canadian version is substantially smaller, with just the six pro teams as compared to the 91 involved in the eight-round U.S. Open Cup.

Rowdies fans will certainly recognize the visiting coach today. Paul Dalglish helmed the first season of the Rowdies reboot, though he was let go with two games left in the season after a 10-game winless stretch.

Campbell, as evidenced by his lineup strategy Wednesday, just wants to keep his team's good vibe going.

"The team have good a good camaraderie, we've got a great spirit in there, a great togetherness," he said. "Good mix of older guys and younger guys, all pulling in the same direction, that's the big thing. We've had a decent start to the season and they're all determined to really kick on now."

.TONIGHT

Rowdies vs. Ottawa

7:30, Al Lang Stadium TV: BHSN

Tickets: Call (727) 222-2000 or visit rowdiessoccer.com

Records: Rowdies 3-2-3; Ottawa 2-4-2

Tampa Bay Rowdies balance Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, NASL ambitions 06/03/16 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2016 10:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  3. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  5. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.