The Tampa Bay Rowdies cruised to a 3-0 victory over Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday night at Atlanta’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Steevan Dos Santos and Sebastian Dalgaard each netted a goal in the first half, while newcomer Jake LaCava bagged his second goal of the season to carry through to the win.
It would have been harder for Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins to script a better night for his side in their second road trip of the season. The Rowdies took hold of the match early on and never let up through relentless passing and quick transitions. Tampa Bay finished the night with 10 shots on goal without giving up a single shot on goal.
“We just tried to be at our very best in terms of moving the ball quickly and being really secure in possession… Really it was about putting our best performance out there because we knew that’s what it would take and I thought we certainly were close to that,” said Collins.
The Rowdies put the ball in the back of the net in the 20th minute as Jordan Scarlett headed home a free kick launched by Lewis Hilton, but that goal was waived off as Scarlett was deemed offside.
Before a minute had passed, though, the Rowdies had the back of the net again. Midfielder Leo Fernande drifted in from the left wing to the center of the field before slotting a pass into space Steevan Dos Santos to run onto and then chip past keeper Dylan Castanheira.
The Rowdies continued to pin Atanta down in their own half and were rewarded with another goal in the 31st minute. After the hosts failed to clear a corner kick sent in by Hilton, Scarlett managed to poke the ball off a defender to pop it in the air at the top of the box. Dalgaard watched the ball fall, waiting in position to trap it off his thing and then blast a shot off the outside of his right boot and into the top right corner.
“Just two very good finishes from players that took the right option,” said Collins. “We certainly had that many we shot right at the keeper, but the players who scored took the right option and that’s down to their own decision making. Seb Dalgaard’s goal was fantastic. We missed a lot of easy chances but it was nice to see him score such a special goal.”
Tampa Bay notched their final goal of the night just past the hour mark, and it was certainly one to remember. Hilton initiated the sequence with a pinpoint pass from the right wing to find LaCava in the middle of the field. LaCava deftly controlled the ball and passed forward to Guenzatti and then continued his run forward into the box. Sensing his teammates’ intentions, Guenzatti drew his defender to the right before backheeling a pass for LaCava, who buried the ball with his next touch.
“When players start connecting and getting to know each other, these things start to come out,” said Collins. “When players are full of confidence they show that side of their game, and it was really good to watch tonight.”
The win moves the Rowdies up to second in the Eastern Conference standings. Louisville City FC sits on top after recording a 2-0 win over New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday.
With three points and their second straight shutout under their belt, the Rowdies head home to face Hartford Athletic at Al Lang Stadium this Saturday, March 26 at 7:30pm ET. The Rowdies will be hosting a postmatch fireworks show, which fans are invited to view from the field at Al ang. Tickets for the match can be purchased here or by calling 727-222-2000.
TBR – Steevan Dos Santos (Leo Fernandes) 21’
TBR – Sebastian Dalgaard 31’
TBR – Jake LaCava (Sebastian Guenzatti) 62’