Birmingham Legion FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saturday, June 1, 8 p.m. ET
BBVA Compass Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Follow us for live updates on Twitter at @RowdiesGameday
Tampa Bay: 7-0-5 (W-L-T); 3-0-2 on road; 1st place
Birmingham: 3-5-3 (W-L-T); 1-4-1 at home; 12th place
The Tampa Bay Rowdies head to Birmingham on the back of their first loss this season, a 4-3 defeat on the road against OKC Energy FC in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night. In addition to the lengthy travel, kickoff was delayed by nearly two-and-a-half hours due to lightning and tornado warnings.
Head Coach Neill Collins heavily rotated his squad for that Open Cup matches with eight changes from the Rowdies victory over the Swope Park Rangers in league play the weekend before. Only Mohamed Kone, Caleb Richards and Kwadwo Poku retained their places in the team.
In league play, the Rowdies remain the only unbeaten team in the entire 36-team USL Championship. Following North Texas SC’s loss to Toronto FC II on Wednesday night in USL League One, the Rowdies are the only team unbeaten in league play in the top three divisions, a group of 70 total teams.
Defense has been the Rowdies strength this season with Tampa Bay having conceded only four goals in 12 league matches so far. Of the four goals allowed, only one has come in the second half of a match. Primary goalkeeper John McCarthy, who did not play in the Open Cup defeat, leads the league with eight clean sheets and a goals-against-average of 0.33. His save percentage is 88.6.
Rowdies midfielder Leo Fernandes earned a spot in the USL Championship Team of the Week for the third time this season on Tuesday afternoon. He is the first Tampa Bay player to receive that recognition for a third time this year.
The Rowdies will likely be without a quartet of players due to injury once again. Forward Jaime Siaj is yet to play this season due to a quad injury. Midfielder Yann Ekra has not played since April 13 due to an ankle injury. Defender Shawn Barry missed three matches with an ankle injury before returning to action in Nashville on May 8. Barry exited that match after 18 minutes with a rib injury and hasn’t played since. Forward Malik Johnson made his first start of the season Tuesday night but exited the match with a face injury after only 16 minutes. Those four have combined to miss 41 matches.
OUT: F Jaime Siaj (quad strain)
OUT: D Shawn Barry (ankle)
OUT: M Yann Ekra (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: F Malik Johnson (nose)