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Winning road trip lifts Tampa Bay Rowdies' spirits

Josh Lambo punches the ball from Carolina’s Matt Bobo during the Rowdies’ 2-1 win that was part of a 2-0-1 road trip.

ROB KINNAN | Special to the Times

Josh Lambo punches the ball from Carolina’s Matt Bobo during the Rowdies’ 2-1 win that was part of a 2-0-1 road trip.

TAMPA — After the Rowdies' last game at Steinbrenner Field, a 2-2 tie against Austin, they sat alone in last in the USL Conference with five points (1-1-2), six back of first-place Rochester.

That was May 8.

Now the Rowdies, fresh off their second three-game road trip of the season, are 3-1-3. With 12 points, they sit second in the USL, two behind Austin, and tied for second overall in the U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2.

That has coach Paul Dal­glish confident as his team enters a stretch of three home games among its next four that starts tonight against Minnesota.

"We'd hoped to be in this position, but you can't say that you expected it because there's a lot of unknowns with an expansion team," Dalglish said. "You don't know how the players are going to jell together. We knew we had good enough players for it to go that way."

Dalglish said a tireless effort during games and practice sparked the recent success.

"The results we're getting now are all due to the amount of work that we've put in not in the last few days, but since we started preseason in March," he said. "It's great because … if you look back in our earlier games, maybe we never got the victories or the result that our play and our performances deserved. I just think now we really are starting to get the results that our performances deserve."

PAYBACK TIME: The Rowdies enter tonight with a five-game unbeaten streak (2-0-3) dating to April 24. Their last loss? To Minnesota, 1-0 on a penalty kick in the 33rd minute in the second game of the season. That represents one of Minnesota's two wins this season.

"The game never reflected that (Minnesota) should have got three points," Dalglish said. "I think even if you ask them, they'll admit that they were lucky to get away with three points. But that's … soccer. If you don't score goals, you don't win games."

KICKS IN THE GRASS: Citing disciplinary reasons, the Rowdies said midfielder Chad Burt, a St. Petersburg native, is being held out of team activities for one week and won't play in the next two games. … Defender Scott Buete, out all season with a heel injury, practiced for the first time Tuesday and could play tonight. "He'll definitely be involved somewhere," Dalglish said. "He's one of our key guys, so it's great to have him back." … Tonight's game features $1 beer from the time gates open at 6 p.m. until 20 minutes into the game as part of "Thirsty Thursday." … The Rowdies will unveil a commemorative Support Our Troops jersey Saturday against Puerto Rico. After the game, they will auction the jerseys with proceeds benefiting the "Tickets for Troops" program. More than 1,000 military personnel and their families will attend the game for free through the program.

tonight

Rowdies vs. Minnesota

When/where: 7:30; Steinbrenner Field, Tampa

Radio/Internet: 1010-AM; fctampabay.com

Tickets: Toll-free 1-888-757-6934

The opponent: Minnesota (2-6-1) has allowed 14 goals, tied for most in the league and been carded a league-high 21 times (18 yellows, three reds). The Rowdies have 18 yellows and two reds.

Familiar face: Manny Lagos, who scored 12 goals in 37 games for the Tampa Bay Mutiny (1999-2000) coaches Minnesota.

Winning road trip lifts Tampa Bay Rowdies' spirits 05/26/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:39pm]

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