TAMPA — Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish saw Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup first-round match against Dallas as an opportunity for younger players to show him they deserved more playing time in league play.
And if Kwame "J.J." Adjeman-Pamboe's performance in Tampa Bay's 3-0 win was any indication, the midfielder-forward did his part to earn more minutes once the Rowdies resume U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 play Saturday against Puerto Rico.
Adjeman-Pamboe scored a goal and assisted on the other two, helping Tampa Bay advance to the tournament's second round.
"He was very good (Tuesday)," Dalglish said.
The U.S. Open Cup, played since 1914, is a single-elimination tournament open to the top five tiers of the U.S. Soccer Federation, from adult amateur clubs to MLS. Eight qualifying MLS teams enter the field in the third round. The winner clinches a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Rowdies face league rival Miami on Tuesday in the second round at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Miami defeated Central Florida 5-1. The Rowdies and Miami tied 1-1 in league play May 1.
Against Dallas, an adult amateur team, the Rowdies struck early on Northeast High grad Chad Burt's goal in the second minute. Adjeman-Pamboe scored on a breakaway in the 38th minute for a 2-0 halftime lead. Forward Aaron King converted a cross from Adjeman-Pamboe in the 85th minute for the final goal.
"We gave some of the players that haven't played quite so many minutes a good run," Dalglish said. "It was important for the likes of Chad Burt and (midfielder) Mozzi Gyorio and Aaron King and our goalkeeper Josh Lambo to get 90 minutes."
The Rowdies pressured Dallas throughout. Jesuit graduate Joe Donoho nearly had two scores, one on a header off a free kick that was called back on a pushing foul in the 20th minute and one on a shot that hit off the post in the 79th minute. Lambo didn't have to make a save.
THE ROYAL TREATMENT: King (five total goals, four in league play) has supplanted fellow attacker Aaron Wheeler at the top of the Rowdies' scoring leaderboard. Hehas goals in three of the Rowdies' past four games and is tied with Wheeler for fifth in USSF Division 2.
Three of King's league goals have come as a second-half substitute.
"He's a player that can instantly pick up the pace of a game, even if he comes off the bench," Dalglish said. "His pace and finishing ability make him a dangerous player."
King's role could expand in coming games. But "it's a massive advantage for us to be able to bring him on when the other team is wearing down," Dalglish said. "He seems to find space that others don't."
KICKS IN THE GRASS: Other than midfielder Jeremy Christie, playing for New Zealand in the World Cup, the Rowdies have a full arsenal of players from which to choose for Saturday against Puerto Rico, Dalglish said. … At the World Cup, Christie entered in the 77th minute of New Zealand's opening match against Slovakia on Tuesday and helped his home nation earn its first World Cup point with a 1-1 tie. "Nobody can take away from him the fact that he played in the World Cup," Dalglish said. "You hope that he can come back from the experience a better player and help to educate some of our younger players." … The Rowdies are tied with Rochester for third in the USSF Division 2 standings with 18 points.