Tampa Bay Rowdies at Minnesota United FC
Tampa Bay: 1-1-0, 4 point 1st place
Minnesota: 1-0-1, 3 point 5th place
Since the Rowdies returned in 2010, Tampa Bay are level in the series with a record of 7-3-7 (W-T-L). During the Spring Season the Rowdies defeated Minnesota on the road, while losing in their only match at Al Lang Stadium. The Rowdies earned their biggest win since their return to professional soccer in the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Finals, where they defeated Minnesota in penalty kicks at Al Lang Stadium on October 27.
Minnesota defeated Tampa Bay 3-2 on May 25 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rowdies had erased an early Minnesota lead, but United FC was able to score two quick goals to make it 3-1 by the 26th minute. Forward Georgi Hristov, who had scored the initial Rowdies goal, cut the lead back to one in the 30th minute, but Tampa Bay was unable to score any second-half goals to tie things up.
After starting the NASL Fall Season with a 7-4 comeback win at San Antonio, the Rowdies returned home to face the historic New York Cosmos. In a match that saw Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo make a season-high 12 saves, Tampa Bay and New York battled to a scoreless draw in front of a sold out crowd at Al Lang Stadium.
Restrepo’s performance earned him the NASL Player of the Week award, while he was joined by defender Takuya Yamada on the NASL Team of the Week. The Rowdies will be traveling to Minnesota without star midfielder Luke Mulholland, who received a red card in last Saturday’s match. Tampa Bay has added to their attacking third by bringing in forward Etienne Barbara from Minnesota in exchange for Mike Ambersley. Barbara has scored one goal and one assist since his arrival, adding to an offense led by Georgi Hristov who has seven goals and six assists this season.
The Rowdies will not be able to count on forward Amani Walker for the remainder of the season, as he sustained a torn ACL in the last match.
Coming off their first win of the season, Minnesota United FC slashed a four game losing streak after their 3-1 win against Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday. United has yet to win at Blaine’s NSC Stadium since moving there for their final match of the NASL Spring Season.
Offensively, Max Griffin and Pablo Campos have been playing well and adding speed along the wings. Both produced goals in last weekend’s victory against the Strikers. For the Fall Season, Minnesota received two productive players on loan from the Montreal Impact with Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Calum Mallace. Together they have solidified the midfield as well as added creativity offensively.
Rowdies Head Coach Ricky Hill
“For some reason, our matches against Minnesota have always been very exciting. We got the better of them on the road during the Spring Season, and then they came to our place and beat us. We need to be able to maintain their offensive threats, and at the same time be able to hold possession as we lacked that against the Cosmos. Overall it will be an interesting match and if we are able to create chances, I believe we will come away with another win on the road.”
The Rowdies will host FC Edmonton at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Call (813)287-1539 or click here for information on tickets.