ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (May 17, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies are the first team to reach the Third Round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup following Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over the Jacksonville Armada FC U23. Wednesday’s Open Cup schedule includes 27 more matches, including the Miami FC vs South Florida Surf match, which will determine the Rowdies’ next Open Cup opponent.
Here’s Three Things from Tuesday night’s win.
1. Into The Third Round
Tampa Bay returns to league play for now, but will play its next Open Cup match on May 31, with the prospect of facing Major League Soccer opposition with a Third Round win. The Rowdies’ 3-0 win over Jacksonville Armada FC U23 on Tuesday night moved Tampa Bay’s record to 6-6 all-time in the competition, including a perfect 3-0 record against amateur opposition.
Interestingly enough, the Rowdies could face amateur opposition again in the Third Round if the South Florida Surf (PDL) beats Miami FC (NASL) on Wednesday night. If the Surf advances, a host of familiar faces would make the trip to Al Lang. The Surf is coached by former Rowdies Assistant Coach Eric Arbuzow and features former Rowdies Jeff Michaud and Darwin Espinal.
If Miami FC wins, the Rowdies will travel to Miami for the Third Round match.
2. Season Debuts
Tuesday’s match offered Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell a chance to rotate his squad a little bit and offer minutes to players that haven’t seen the field much or even at all this season.
Keith Savage made his 120th appearance, tying Takuya Yamada for second most in the Modern Era and played the full 90 minutes, as did Tamika Mkandawire, who wore the captains’ armband once again.
Martin Paterson made his first start of the season and scored his second goal. Zac Portillos made his first appearance of the season off the bench and played 12 minutes.
3. Fixture Congestion
The Rowdies are now fully in the midst of a hectic portion of their schedule which includes five games in 15 days and seven in 23. The Rowdies won their first two matches Saturday and Tuesday, but now face a road trip to Toronto to play Friday, then Rochester to play next Wednesday before returning home to host Saint Louis FC next Saturday.
Friday’s match in Toronto will be the Rowdies’ third in seven days, making the Rowdies’ squad rotation Tuesday night all the more valuable.