TAMPA, Fla. (March 2, 2019) — After eight preseason matches, the Tampa Bay Rowdies are now ready to kick off the 2019 Championship season following a 2-1 win over the USF Bulls on Saturday night.
Playing a mix of MLS, USL and college teams, the Rowdies posted a record of 5-2-1 (W-L-D) in their preseason. The regular season kicks off next Saturday night on the road against expansion side Memphis 901 FC.
"I think regardless of the wins, there’s been a lot of real positive stuff," Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. "We have eight returners and 16 new players. We have to have our expectations right. There’s a lot we’re happy with and a lot we need to improve. If all those guys came in and everything was perfect, I’d be a miracle worker. The guys have been brilliant. They’ve tried to implement everything we’ve asked and that’s all you want as a coach.”
After an early Bulls goal, Sebastian Guenzatti equalized the match in the 16th minute. From there, it was basically all Rowdies as they dominated possession and controlled the tempo of the match.
USF's goalkeepers combined for at least 10 saves in a resilient performance.
The Rowdies emptied the bench in the second half, with seven players entering the match. Only John McCarthy, Papé Diakite, Tarek Morad and Caleb Richards played the full 90 minutes.
Despite their dominance, the Rowdies couldn't find a go-ahead goal until very late in the match when Kwadwo Poku dribbled past a set of defenders before chipping the goalkeeper for a 2-1 lead in the 85th minute.
It was the second goal of preseason for both Guenzatti and Poku. Brandon Allen finished as the preseason scoring leader with three goals.
Rowdies (3-5-2): GK John McCarthy; D Tarek Morad, Papé Diakité, Caleb Richards; M Shawn Barry (Mohamed Kone 71'), Andrew Tinari (Jaime Siaj 71'), Dom Oduro (Jordan Doherty 50'), Zach Steinberger (Yann Ekra 62'), Leo Fernandes (Kwadwo Poku 71'); F Brandon Allen (Juan Tejada 71'), Sebastian Guenzatti (c) (Antoine Hoppenot 62')
USF: 10th minute
Rowdies: Sebastian Guenzatti - 16th minute (assisted by Leo Fernandes)
Rowdies: Kwadwo Poku - 85th minute