ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (September 9, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies won their 15th game of the season Saturday night, setting a new Modern Era record for wins in a regular season, surpassing their 14 wins from the 2017 season.
Here’s Three Things from the 3-1 win over the Charlotte Independence…
1. Terrific Tejada
Rowdies forward Juan Tejada got himself back on the scoresheet Saturday night with two typical Juan Tejada goals. They weren’t spectacular strikes, they were the product of his work rate and ability to find the open space at the right time.
Tejada now has 10 goals on the season, a remarkable return for a player in his first professional season. The story has been told before, but Tejada was a preseason camp invitee that earned himself a contract. Since then, he worked his way into the starting lineup on the opening day of the season and he has appeared in all but two matches this season.
Reaching double digits is a significant achievement as he is not the Rowdies leading scorer. For the first time in 10 seasons of modern team history, the Rowdies have a pair of double digit scorers. Sebastian Guenzatti leads the team with 14 goals.
In 2011, Aaron King came close with nine goals behind Mike Ambersley’s 11. In 2013, Luke Mulholland scored nine goals behind Georgi Hristov’s 12. Joe Cole scored nine goals in 2016 behind Hristov’s 11. In 2017, Martin Paterson scored nine goals behind Hristov’s 13.
There have been plenty of close calls, but finally the Rowdies boast a strike partnership of two double digit scorers.
2. Back to second
The Rowdies are one of just three teams in the current Eastern Conference playoff field to win in its last time out, meaning Tampa Bay had the chance to move up in the standings this weekend. The Rowdies headed into the match in fourth place, but with No. 2 Nashville and No. 3 Indy losing this weekend in Saint Louis and Charleston, respectively, the Rowdies have moved back into second.
Margins at the top of the table are razor thin, with the top six separated by only six points from New York Red Bulls II down to North Carolina FC. With seven games remaining in the regular season (some teams have as few as six, some as many as nine) really anything can happen.
The Rowdies have three games and five road games left on the schedule, but only three of those matches are against teams in the current playoff field (at Ottawa, at Louisville and vs Indy). No Eastern Conference team has clinched a playoff spot, but the magic numbers required to do so are getting seriously low and we should start seeing teams officially reach the playoffs in the next week or so.
There is a scenario that the Rowdies could clinch a playoff berth with a win Saturday night against Atlanta United 2, but it would require the Charleston Battery losing at both Swope Park on Wednesday night and Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
3. Midfield reshuffle
Head Coach Neill Collins made a few changes to his midfield Saturday night, with Jordan Doherty coming back into the starting lineup in place of Andrew Tinari. Kwadwo Poku played further forward as the No. 10 with Doherty pairing Dom Oduro as the two more defensive-minded midfielders.
While all three goals came from forwards, it appears that Tampa Bay’s midfield clicked pretty well in the victory. Apart from Leo Fernandes (71 percent), the worst passing percentage in the group was Doherty at an impressive 88 percent. Poku led the way at 94, just ahead of Oduro (93) and Johnson (92.) Fernandes’ numbers were primarily dragged down by the volume of crosses he served into the box. Fernandes picked up an assist on the first goal.
It’s clear Collins has an abundance of choice for personnel in the midfield, with Shawn Barry also making an appearance off the bench in his continued return to fitness.
Doherty hasn’t been a regular starter this season, but the Rowdies have an incredibly impressive record in the matches he does start. Tampa Bay is 7-1-2 (W-L-T) in those matches, eight of which have been away from home.