Photo: Mario T Photography
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 1, 2017) — Tampa Bay was eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night with a 2-0 road loss in Miami. Until next year, the Rowdies will have to focus on the United Soccer League season, which is yet to reach the halfway point of the regular season.
Here’s Three Things from Wednesday’s result...
1. Out of the cup
Tampa Bay’s seventh run in the U.S. Open Cup is now in the books. This year, the Rowdies defeated the Jacksonville Armada FC U23 (NPSL) 3-0 in the second round before losing 2-0 to Miami FC (NASL) in the third.
In their Open Cup history, the Rowdies are now 6-7 all-time, failing to advance at least one round only once. That first-round exit was in 2015.
Nine USL clubs remain in the Open Cup’s fourth round, the round of 32.
With the U.S. Open Cup in the books, the Rowdies’ focus returns to league play, with Tampa Bay visiting the Charlotte Independence on Sunday night in South Carolina.
2. Chaos coming to an end
A lot has been made of the Rowdies’ fixture congestion in the last few weeks, but the madness is at last coming to an end.
It’s impossible to know how much heavy-leggedness crept into the Rowdies’ legs in Miami, playing against a much fresher team. Players enjoy playing matches and won’t make excuses for their loss, but perhaps it’s no coincidence that Miami’s two goals came in the last 15 minutes of the match.
Still, the analysis of the Rowdies’ schedule over the last several weeks is harrowing. After traveling to Canada to play in Ottawa on May 6, just less than a month ago, the Rowdies have returned home and made separate away trips up north to Toronto and Rochester, plus visiting Miami in midweek and now preparing to fly to Charlotte on Saturday morning.
Add in three home matches during that period and Sunday’s match against the Independence will be the Rowdies’ eighth in less than a month, including five separate road trips.
Full rest days have been few and far between, but more importantly, days where the team could really be pushed during training have been severely limited because there was always a game coming up in the next few days.
Finally, after Sunday’s match, the Rowdies return to a one-match-a-week schedule for the next few months
3. A break from turf
Artificial turf has been a bogey for the Rowdies in recent years and Tampa Bay has seen far too much of it in recent weeks.
Between May 19 in Toronto and last night, three of the Rowdies’ four games have been on artificial turf. After winning 3-1 against Toronto FC II, the Rowdies lost the other two matches off grass.
Luckily, Tampa Bay can get back into the groove over the next few weeks, with the team scheduled to play its next three matches on natural grass before returning to turf on June 22 in Pittsburgh against the Riverhounds.