TAMPA — The Rowdies' first loss of the season on Saturday came with a lesson: outplaying a team offensively means little if you can't score.
Tampa Bay possessed the ball for most of a 1-0 loss at Minnesota — as it did during its win at Baltimore in the opener the week before. But it had few scoring opportunities.
This week, as they travel to Miami, the Rowdies' focus has been on creating more chances.
"It's working on positioning. It's working on movements. It's working on speed of play, working on faster release of the ball," coach Paul Dalglish said. "There will be a few changes in personnel, maybe a few surprises. But I think everything is working very well."
Friday's game features two teams trying to find an offensive spark. Through two games, each has scored just one goal.
"We've had more runs to the box (during practice)," midfielder Drew Yates said. "I definitely think it helped. And if we played Minnesota over, we'd be able to put it in the back of the net a couple times. I think the more we play together, the better we will be."
At the other end … : Dalglish said defensively, the team has sparkled. The only goal Tampa Bay has allowed in two games came on a penalty kick.
"That's a lot of minutes," Dalglish said. "It's difficult for expansion teams for all the pieces of the jigsaw to come together right away. I'm pleased with where we're going."
MAKING A RIVALRY: This is the first of four meetings against Miami, and the Rowdies would like to see a rivalry develop with their neighbor to the south.
During the old NASL days, the Rowdies developed fierce rivalries with the Miami Toros and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who played at Lockhart Stadium, Miami's current home.
And Tampa Bay has slated its July 4 night home game, the biggest draw of the season during the old Rowdies days, against Miami.
"What a way to build buzz than beating the old enemy," Dalglish said. "I think the rivalry adds a little. There are bragging rights. The fans want to win, and the players want to win for the fans."
STANDINGS WATCH: Even though it's just two games into the season, it appears the Rowdies' division will be competitive.
Four teams in the USL Division — Portland (7), Puerto Rico (6), Austin (6) and Minnesota (6) — have at least six points. (Wins are worth three points, ties one.) Granted Minnesota (2-2) has played four games while Portland (2-0-1) and Austin (2-1) have played three.
"You can't win a championship in the first 10 games of the season, but you can definitely lose one," Dalglish said. "It's important we keep up with the hot pace. It's a tough standard. Every team looks stronger."
KICKS IN THE GRASS: Defender Gordon Kljestan will sit out Friday after receiving a red card in the first half against Minnesota. … The Rowdies have officially changed training facilities, from Land O'Lakes to Shimberg Park in Town N' Country. … The Rowdies' kickoff party raised $1,000 for the Kicks for Kids program. … Rowdies fan group Ralph's Mob is sending a 50-person fan bus caravan to the Miami game.