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. New Bucs player murals go up at Raymond James Stadium

    Blogs

    Each summer, it's a sign that training camp is soon to arrive at One Buc Place: the changing of the huge player murals on each corner of Raymond James Stadium.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has a corner mural at Raymond James Stadium for a third year in a row.
  2. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Jordan Spieth, right, comes from one back of Matt Kuchar, left, after 13, going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-par to win by 3.
  3. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  4. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  5. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)