LAND O'LAKES — Now that the business of the first game — and win — in franchise history is out of the way, the Rowdies can look forward to continuing their toughest road stretch of the season.
After Friday's 1-0 win at Baltimore, the Rowdies play at Minnesota on Saturday, the second of three road games before the home opener May 8 against Austin. And six of the first seven games are on the road, which made the win in Baltimore more important than just historical fodder.
"I think it will be a little easier now that we have that first win behind us," Rowdies defender and captain Julian Valentin said. "We're confident with the group we have that we can go on the road and pick up points. We've already shown we can gut-out wins and get results when we have to. I think knowing we've already been there one game into the year really helps."
In Baltimore, the Rowdies battled wind and rain while playing on unfamiliar artificial turf but controlled the ball and tempo for the majority of the game.
"It was blowing a gale," Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish said. "We were playing on turf. It was raining. The ball was skipping off. It became kind of a battle, especially in the second half. The guys won the battle and won the game."
CAPOBIANCO JOINS CLUB: The team hired Renato Capobianco as an assistant coach to specialize in training and fitness. Capobianco spent six years as a coach and administrator in MLS with the Mutiny, New England and San Jose.
He was also an administrator for the U.S. national team from 1991-94 and U.S. under-17 national team in 1995-96. He comes to the Rowdies after coaching FC Greater Boston Bolts, a girls club program, and Weston (Mass.) High.
"He will have total control of the fitness side," Dalglish said. "There's no point in bringing in people who are experts and telling them what to do."
SHOOTING STARS: After watching Minnesota's 1-0 win over Carolina on Friday, Dalglish was impressed with its frontline duo of John Menyongar and Warren Ukah.
"That's the danger," Dalglish said. "And their midfield four keep the ball very well."
Dalglish was happy with the way his team kept constant pressure on Baltimore. That will be more imperative against Minnesota, which plays its home opener after three road games.
"We never gave Baltimore any time to settle on the ball," Dalglish said. "So they really couldn't find a rhythm, which is important because if we give Minnesota time to settle on the ball, they have players who can keep the ball."
KICKS IN THE GRASS: Left back Gordon Kljestan, who missed the Baltimore game with a rib injury, will make the trip to Minnesota. … Midfielder Scott Buete is doubtful with a lingering heel injury sustained while playing the indoor season for Baltimore. … The club signed U.S. under-23 national team player Rob Valentino last week. A center back, Valentino adds depth and international experience to the back line. … This week's game is slated to be broadcast live on the team's website (fctampabay.com). Last week's feed did not work because of a transmission problem.