VAUGHAN, Ontario, Canada (May 20, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies woke up Saturday morning sitting in first place in the USL’s Eastern Conference after a 3-1 win come-from-behind win over Toronto FC II on Friday evening.
Here’s Three Things from Friday’s match…
1. Exorcising a few demons
Tampa Bay’s road record in recent seasons hasn’t always been spectacular. If that road game was on artificial turf, the Rowdies very rarely won.
Tampa Bay’s road record last season was 3-5-7 (W-T-L) last season and the Rowdies went winless in eight matches on turf last season.
In all of 2015, the Rowdies won just one road match and again went winless in seven matches on turf.
The Rowdies’ record when conceding first is similarly uninspiring. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Rowdies went a combined 1-12-20 (W-T-L) when conceding the first goal of the match.
Without getting too carried away — after all, Friday’s win was just one game — it’s encouraging to see the Rowdies get a result on turf away from home. Tampa Bay will have to do again twice in the coming weeks, first in Rochester on Wednesday night and then again in Miami in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 31. If the Rowdies come through those matches with good results, maybe it’ll be time to retire the “road woes” storyline for a while.
“I thought the players showed tremendous character,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We’ve got a really good group of guys in the locker room, not just the ones that played today, but the ones on the bench and the ones that didn’t get to make the trip. There’s a tremendous atmosphere and that’s what’s going to carry us a long way this season.”
2. Jones makes his mark
Objectively, Darwin Jones had looked like one of the Rowdies’ most exciting acquisitions through the first quarter of the season, but he hadn’t scored or provided an assist until this week.
With his speed on the wings and willingness to cut inside and take a shot, Jones’ impact on matches had been huge, even if slightly intangible with nothing to show for it on the stats sheet.
Jones made his impact count this week, notching an assist in Tuesday’s Open Cup win and then scoring his first goal with the Rowdies and adding another assist in Friday’s win over TFC II.
Jones scored 12 goals in the last two seasons with Seattle Sounders 2, so here’s to more goals from the Rowdies’ dynamic young attacker.
.@TampaBayRowdies steam rolling in the 2nd half with three goals!
3. Paterson’s instant impact
Rowdies forward Martin Paterson had a similarly impressive week, scoring in the Rowdies’ midweek Open Cup win and again in Friday’s league win.
Paterson had to watch most of Friday’s match from the bench, but when he checked in in the 79th minute, boy was he ready to play.
Just 21 seconds after crossing the white line and entering the field of play, Paterson headed a Neill Collins pass past Toronto goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo to put Tampa Bay ahead 2-1 with 10 minutes to play.
“If I come on late, I always fancy myself to nick a goal,” Paterson said. “It’s the fastest I’ve scored since coming on. I scored a few quick ones when I was at Burnley, but that’s the fastest one, scoring with my first touch. Big Neilly (Collins) has done brilliant to get his head on it and be brave and I like to think when I’m in the 6-yard box, I’m lethal.”