ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 23, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies suffered their first home defeat of the 2017 campaign on Saturday night, falling 3-2 to the Charleston Battery on an 89th minute goal.
Here’s three things to take away from the match…
1. Getting aggressive
Tampa Bay conceded its first goal of the year at Al Lang Stadium in the 40th minute last night and conceded again to fall behind at home for the first time this year. Trailing a match is never ideal, but the Rowdies at least tried everything in their power to turn the match around and get a result at home.
“I took a gamble,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “I chucked every attacking option I had (onto the field.) We ended up with three strikers on, plus two wide men. We went for it because I would’ve been disappointed if we only got a point at home, so I went for it in the hope of getting three. It didn’t happen.”
Campbell turned to his bench in the 56th minute, inserting Leo Fernandes into the match. Prior to Saturday night, the Rowdies hadn’t made a substitution earlier than the 65th minute in any match.
Ten minutes later, forward Deshorn Brown replaced defender Kyle Porter in a bold attack-minded move with the Rowdies changing formation to three at the back in favor of putting more attackers into the mix. Finally, in the 80th minute, forward Martin Paterson entered the match, meaning all three forwards on the Rowdies roster were on the field at the same time.
Tampa Bay did manage to equalize the match in the 62nd minute, but wasn’t able to force home a third goal before Charleston scored late to win the match. While the all-out attack didn’t work out Saturday night, it was nice to see the Rowdies put everything into trying to win at home instead of settling for a draw.
2. Statistical domination not enough
At this point, it’s no surprise to see the Rowdies statistically dominate their opponents. As the Opta stats from Saturday night’s match show, Tampa Bay held the ball for nearly 70 percent of the match and out-passed its opponent by nearly 300 passes, but still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
It’s a recurring frustration that ought to be rectified sooner rather than later so that Tampa Bay can take its domination beyond the stat sheet and into the box score.
Charleston's heat map shows the Rowdies had the Battery pinned back, but Tampa Bay couldn't convert that pressure into a win
3. First starts
Playing their third match in eight days, the Rowdies rotated the squad a bit, with Alex Morrell and Kyle Porter making their first starts of the season, as well as Darwin Jones making his first start at home.
Morrell, who had only played nine total minutes prior to Saturday night, looked impressive in his first extended action of the year. He looked confident and threatening with the ball at his feet, taking on defenders with his quickness.
Perhaps Morrell’s most memorable contribution of the match was this acrobatic flying backheel touch, which was a successful pass to Porter.