OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada (September 19, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell to a 1-0 defeat in Ottawa on Wednesday night, but also had reason for celebration as they officially clinched their spot in the USL Championship Playoffs.
Here’s Three Things from the match…
1. Playoffs secured
While the on-field result Wednesday night was poor, the Rowdies still qualified for the USL Championship Playoffs thanks to the Charleston Battery’s 3-1 loss to Atlanta United 2 in Georgia on Wednesday night.
The Rowdies are one of four teams to book their spot in the Eastern Conference, alongside New York Red Bulls II, the Indy Eleven and Nashville SC.
This is the fourth time in 10 years of Modern Era play that the Rowdies have qualified for the postseason. The focus now turns to seeding as Tampa Bay is in a tight battle for a place in the top four and a potential home game in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Tampa Bay is currently three points out of first place but just two points ahead of fifth-place Pittsburgh.
2. Out of sync
There’s no question about it that Wednesday’s match was not very easy on the eye. The Rowdies and Ottawa slogged through a match that was short in quality from both sides. Ottawa completed only 66 percent of its passes, 12 percent worse than its season average of 78 percent. Tampa Bay completed just 53.6 percent of its passes, 24 percent than its season average of 77.2 percent. The 53.6 percent completion rate was, by far, Tampa Bay’s worst of the year.
The Rowdies recorded only three shots over the course of the 90 minutes, a new season-low. None of the shots were on target. The Rowdies had previously failed to record a shot on target just once this season, a 0-0 draw on the road against the Indy Eleven on May 1.
The Rowdies were on course to match that 0-0 draw and escape Ottawa with a point until a controversial late penalty decision went against the Rowdies and doomed them to defeat.
Now, the question is how quickly can the Rowdies recover from this performance to start building momentum for the postseason. The result is done and in the books and the Rowdies need to move past it quickly.
3. Heavy rotation
With a midweek flight out of the country sandwiched between home games, Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins opted for a heavily-rotated side for the match in Ottawa. Tampa Bay made six changes for the lineup that played against Atlanta last Saturday night. Jaime Siaj, Lucky Mkosana, Zach Steinberger, Kwadwo Poku and Mohamed Kone were all restored to the starting lineup, while Afrim Taku started for the Rowdies just one day after being acquired by the club Tuesday.
None of the top four scorers on the team started the match. Leading scorer Sebastian Guenzatti didn’t make the trip at all.
The Rowdies will likely make a number of changes to the team again for Saturday’s game against Bethlehem Steel FC. Defender Pape Diakite will sit out as he serves a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.