Toronto FC II vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Friday, May 19, 5 p.m. ET.
Ontario Soccer Centre, Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Follow us for live updates on Twitter @RowdiesGameday
Head to Five Bucks Drinkery on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg to watch with other Rowdies fans and enjoy drink specials during the match.
Toronto FC II: 1-3-4 (W-T-L), 6 points, 15th place
Tampa Bay: 5-2-2 (W-T-L), 17 points, 2nd place
The Rowdies will play their third match in seven days in Toronto, coming of a 2-0 win over Louisville City FC in league play last Saturday and then a 3-0 win over Jacksonville Armada FC U23 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night.
This match is the middle game of a 15-day period where Tampa Bay plays five matches, so Head Coach Stuart Campbell did a fair bit of squad rotation for Tuesday’s match. Goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald made his first appearance since April 15. Left back Luke Boden made his first appearance since April 22. Midfielder Keith Savage and defenders Tamika Mkandawire and Zac Portillos made their first appearances of the season. Regular starters Matt Pickens, Neill Collins, Marcel Schäfer and Joe Cole were all kept out of the squad and given a night off.
The Rowdies have been led by their defense so far in 2017, posting six clean sheets in nine USL matches to start the season, plus another clean sheet in the Open Cup in midweek. Goalkeepers Akira Fitzgerald and Matt Pickens have kept three each in USL play, with Fitzgerald posting a fourth in the Open Cup.
Offensively, the Rowdies have been led by Bulgarian forward Georgi Hristov who has scored five goals. Hristov has been with the Rowdies since 2013 and is the Modern Era record holder in appearances (122) and goals (43). He set the appearances record in last weekend’s win over Louisville City.
Scouting Toronto FC II
Toronto FC II comes into this match stuck at the bottom of the USL’s Eastern Conference with six points from eight games. The Reds’ only win so far this season came on opening day March 25.
At the root of Toronto’s problems has been a stuttering offense which has only produced two goals this season.
Despite the scoring drought, Toronto has remained somewhat competitive thanks to the stellar play of goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo. The goalkeeper is third in the USL in saves with 24 and tied for the league lead with three cleans sheets. All this despite not starting the season as Toronto’s first-choice goalkeeper.