ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 31, 2017) — With the 2017 Tampa Bay Rowdies season now in the books after a premature end in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, it’s time to take a look back at a record-setting debut season in the United Soccer League.
The sting of the Rowdies’ extra-time loss to the New York Red Bulls II on Saturday night, is still fresh, but as it begins to fade, preparations for the 2018 season are already underway with plenty of positive building blocks from the season that just ended.
Tampa Bay enjoyed huge successes at Al Lang Stadium in front of the Rowdies faithful, setting several Modern Era franchise records for home performance. The Rowdies’ total of 13 home wins at Al Lang Stadium this season is a new Modern Era record, besting 2015’s nine wins. The Rowdies lost just twice at home this season and Saturday night’s season-ending loss was tied after 90 minutes.
Tampa Bay’s home unbeaten streak of 14 matches between a 3-2 loss to Charleston on April 22 and Saturday night’s loss to New York is another record.
The Rowdies have scored in every match they’ve played since July 6, a streak of 17 straight matches with a goal that will carry into next season. If the Rowdies score on opening day of the 2018 season, that will set a new Modern Era record for consecutive matches with a goal.
As a team, the Rowdies qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2012, largely because of increased defensive fortitude. Matt Pickens (10) and Akira Fitzgerald (4) combined for 14 clean sheets, besting 2012’s total of 12 for a new team record. The Rowdies conceded 39 goals in 36 matches this year in all competitions, posting a goals-against-average of 1.08. The Rowdies’ best mark prior to this was 1.18 goals-against in 2012.
On the offensive side, Tampa Bay’s average of 1.59 goals per match is second-best only to 2013’s 1.86 goals per match.
Georgi Hristov led the way once offensively once again for the Rowdies, leading the team in scoring for the fourth time in five seasons with Tampa Bay. His 15 goals are the most by any player in a single season in modern Rowdies history, besting his 12 from his 2013 MVP campaign.
As the customary offseason roster retooling gets underway in the coming days and weeks, the Rowdies have a strong foundation to build off of.