The Rowdies returned to the practice field Monday morning with a session that lasted more than two hours at Shimberg Fields.
“We’ve had a pretty hard morning," said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. "It’s been pretty warm out here but we’ve worked quite long trying to get Saturday’s game and the travel out of our legs. We’ve had little rest after the trip home yesterday but it is important that we get back and put our focus on Saturday’s game after the disappointment of losing at Puerto Rico."
Tampa Bay dropped a 2-0 decision to the Islanders last Saturday night at Bayamon Soccer Complex, with Puerto Rico scoring twice in the last 10 minutes of the match. Forward Fafa Picault made his first start as a member of the Rowdies, while defender Daniel Scott started for the second time this season.
"Dan Scott came in and did well; Fafa came on and showed that he’s got some life and energy and that maybe he can help us," said Hill. "I think overall as a front three and as a team the shape looked fairly good. We looked threatening for most of the game but you still have to convert and we still have to execute when we have chances to do so."
Tampa Bay has yet to allow a goal in the first 45 minutes of league play this season, outscoring its opponents 5-0 in the first half. But the Rowdies have struggled somewhat in the second half, with their opponents owning a 15-6 goal advantage in the final 45 minutes.
"It’s kind of a strange stat that we haven’t conceded a league goal in the first half of any game this season, and that is a positive," said Hill. "One of the big faults with any team is that if you concede early, it’s going to be difficult in a game and you’re chasing the match thereafter. We’ve managed to control the first half of games, but for whatever reason in the second period no matter what we try to put into the player’s minds, the tempo and the intensity drops slightly initially when we get out there in the second period. If we concede a goal during that time, then it’s going to be even harder for us to score two during the final 45 minutes."
The Rowdies conclude their three-match road trip this Saturday night against the Minnesota Stars FC. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. from NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minnesota. You can watch the match live here at www.RowdiesSoccer.com.
Tampa Bay returns home for a three-match homestand beginning on Saturday, June 23 when it hosts San Antonio at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, call 813-287-1539 or click here to purchase your seats now.