Lakeland Tropics vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies U23
Wednesday, June 14, 7:30 p.m. ET.
Waters Avenue Complex, Tampa, Fla.
Follow us for live updates on Twitter @RowdiesU23
Lakeland Tropics: 5-1-0 (W-L-T), 15 points, T-2nd place
Rowdies U23: 2-3-0 (W-L-T), 6 points, 6th place
After breaking a three game losing streak on Sunday it is obviously that a lot of the mojo has been returned to the U23's locker room.
In the words of Head Coach Keith Fulk, "We are starting to look more and more like a team and Sunday's win [over South Florida Surf] has helped get a lot of our swagger back."
Much of what contributed to this change in fortune for Tampa Bay is attributed to a change in strategy that Coach Fulk made prior to Sunday's match. In switching from a 4-1-4-1 to a 4-3-3 there still was no true change in success for the Rowdies, yet it is clear that a more basic 4-4-2 has helped the U23's find a better balance.
Fulk's insistence on constantly "tweaking the system" paid off against the Surf and now should prove to be a strong tool for Wednesday's home rematch against the Lakeland Tropics.
Part of this tweaked system includes a potential switch in net for Tampa Bay as Fulk intends to spread minutes and experience around the roster as evenly as he can in order to truly develop the talent he has.
Again, Fulk and the Rowdies U23's intend to focus greatly on their attacking style of play and look to be as efficient finishing chances on net against Lakeland as they had been Sunday when they put five shots past the keeper. Additionally, composure will be a large factor in this coming match as the first game clearly indicated that little love is lost between these I-4 foes.
In terms of the impact on the league table, a win Wednesday would help boost the Rowdies into as high as fourth place in the standings situated just behind a cluster of one or no loss teams, including the Tropics.
Look for updates on the rest of Wednesday's starting XI and substitutes at our official Twitter page.
Not much has changed for the Tropics since they faced off against the Rowdies back on June 3rd.
After breaking the hearts of the U23's with a 2-1 victory decided on a penalty kick in stoppage time, the Tropics were given a week of downtime before their next match.
On Saturday, the Tropics easily handled Weston FC at home with a 4-0 victory over the Southeast division's bottom dwellers. As usual, Ricardo Diegues played a huge role for Lakeland knocking in his sixth and seventh goal of the season.
After his two goal performance against Weston, Diegues sits just one strike back of the PDL league lead in goals making him an incredibly dangerous weapon for the Lakeland attack.
After scoring the decisive goal in the first match against the Rowdies, it became evident that he was an important player to keep in check if Tampa Bay expected to find success.
Fulk echoed this sentiment as he felt that it was "critical to shut down [Lakeland's] dynamic forwards and control the pace of play." Additionally, the Rowdies coach explained that the decision to stick with a 4-4-2 set up was to ensure that the U23's would have eight men playing back and suppressing the Tropics attack.
It is obvious that both teams have a great deal of excitement heading into this matchup considering how the last game ended and players and fans alike are anticipating an incredible soccer match on Wednesday.
Coming Up Next
Coming out of Father's Day weekend, your U23's will play Weston FC at the Waters Avenue complex in Tampa on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Come support your Rowdies at the field or online by following along with match commentary at twitter.com/rowdiesu23!
Tag(s): Rowdies U23 News