ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 28, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies didn’t get the result they wanted Saturday night but they still found a way to preserve their unbeaten record after falling behind early.
Heres’ Three Things from the match…
1. Turn the calendar
For the first time in 10 seasons of modern Rowdies history, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have made it to the month of May without a loss on their record. April isn’t quite over yet, but last night’s result guaranteed the Rowdies will play May 1 against the Indy Eleven with a zero in the loss column.
That stat is somewhat surprising as this year is the earliest Tampa Bay has ever kicked off a season. From 2010 to 2016, the Rowdies season kicked off in early- to mid-April, even as late at April 16 in 2010 and April 12 in 2014. Last year the Rowdies failed to make it out of March before suffering their first loss, a 1-0 defeat to Louisville on March 31.
Due to Saint Louis FC’s victory over the Swope Park Rangers on Saturday night, the Rowdies dropped to second place in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference. Even with that in mind, Tampa Bay hasn’t had too much to complain about. The Rowdies have drawn three matches at home (a total of six dropped points) but Neill Collins and company will feel that the Rowdies are likely to start turning those into wins sooner rather than later given the teams’ past home dominance.
“(Being undefeated) is a good psychological thing to have in our back pocket, but we’re going to play a tough team in Indy,” Collins said. “If we come out of that still undefeated, we’ll be delighted. It’s just the mentality of the boys. There are technical and tactical things we still need to improve, but their effort and attitude is why we’re still unbeaten.”
2. Guenzatti leads the way
Rowdies captain Sebastian Guenzatti continued his brilliant start to 2019 last night, netting his team-high fifth goal in eight matches to tie the match. The Uruguayan forward came into the year as the Rowdies leading returning scorer with seven goals in 2018, but he has nearly matched that total less than a quarter of the way into 2019.
His goal Saturday night came after a great touch to get the ball around Charlotte defender Andrew Gutman (on loan from Scottish powerhouse Celtic FC). His far post finish gave Charlotte goalkeeper Curtis Anderson (on loan from English powerhouse Manchester City) absolutely no chance of making the save.
In his postmatch interview, Guenzatti said he’s been happy to play as a forward this year after spending much of 2018 playing from a wide area.
Collins credited Guenzatti not only for his finishing class, but for the way he’s taken the responsibility of serving as captain.
“Sebastian is leading as you would expect a captain to lead,” Collins said. “He’s leading through his performances, his attitude and his effort. He typifies what we want at this club. He’s not the only one but he’s leading from the front. He’s got five goals and he could have a lot more. He’s becoming one of the top strikers in this league.”
As of Sunday morning, Guenzatti is tied for sixth best in the Championship with his five goals so far, just two goals off the pace set by a trio of Western Conference finishers.
3. Tinari’s influence grows
Andrew Tinari had to be patient at the start of the season but he’s quickly growing into a pivotal role in the center of the Rowdies midfield. Tinari joined the Rowdies this offseason from the New York Red Bulls II but could only get a spot on the bench in Tampa Bay’s first three matches of the season.
His first start came March 30 against Loudoun United FC, a 0-0 draw. Since then, Tinari has recorded either a goal or an assist in all four matches the Rowdies have played, posting two goals and two assists in five starts.