TAMPA — The Rowdies' red-eye flight home after their heartbreaking road loss in Vancouver on Sunday night left plenty of time to think about another tough-luck loss.
After their 1-0 loss to the Whitecaps — a game Tampa Bay (5-2-3) dominated but that was decided on a penalty kick just before halftime after a handball call — the Rowdies had an 11-hour trip back to Tampa, including a four-hour layover in Toronto.
Both of Tampa Bay's losses have been by one goal and decided by penalty kicks. And coach Paul Dalglish can look at his team's three draws and see where points were missed.
"It just makes you want to work harder to get luckier," Dalglish said. "It just makes me more determined that we can't blame luck again. "I want to take luck out of the equation. I want it to be that we're so far superior to the teams we play, we don't have to be lucky."
The Rowdies head into Saturday's home match with Montreal 4-1-3 in their past eight games. They've tied two games with Austin, the leader in the U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2's USL Division, and they beat Puerto Rico.
They face two title challengers in Montreal and Portland over the next three league games.
"Vancouver, Portland, Montreal, Puerto Rico are considered the other powerhouses," Dalglish said. "We should have beat Vancouver. We did beat Puerto Rico. We've got Portland and Montreal coming up.
"So at the end of this month, we'll have played everybody. Hopefully we'll be able to back up what we're saying, that we are someone to be feared in this league."
CHASING THE CUP: Tuesday, Tampa Bay plays its first U.S. Open Cup match, facing United States Adult Soccer Association qualifier Legends Dallas FC from Dallas at Richland Stadium in Dallas.
It is the first of four straight weeks of Open Cup Games, played on Tuesday or Wednesday. After that, Cup play resumes Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The final is Oct. 5.
"It's going to give some of the younger players that maybe haven't started many games the opportunity to play 90 minutes," Dalglish said. "It's a short window for them to be seen by me and show me I need to pick them for the league games. If they do well, I will pick them. I'm not scared to give people opportunities."
If the Rowdies win Tuesday, they could face Miami of U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 in the second round June 22.
OL' SWITCHAROO: Through the first 10 games, Dalglish has yet to use the same starting lineup. Don't expect that to change soon, he said.
"That might change some the end of the season when we're in the playoffs," he said.
"I just think at this time I've got to keep everybody 100 percent match fit. I've got to keep everybody fresh to win games. Obviously, you pick different tactics based on the opposition."