ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 30, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up another three points on Saturday night, courtesy of Alex Morrell’s two goals in a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
The win moved Tampa Bay to within three points of the top of the USL Eastern Conference.
Here’s Three Things from the match…
1. The Morrell Show
In the last few weeks, Rowdies midfielder Alex Morrell has grown into one of the key cogs of Tampa Bay’s attack, but prior to last night, his only goal of the season had come against an amateur side in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. For all his attacking intent, Morrell hadn’t quite put it all together to score in a USL match.
That changed in the 11th minute against the Riverhounds when a Marcel Schäfer cross from the left was misplayed by Pittsburgh goalkeeper Trey Mitchell, allowing Morrell to score a tap-in from point-blank range.
Morrell was at it again in the 76th minute, volleying a Schäfer cross into the side netting for a 2-0 lead and the eventual three points.
On a team loaded primarily with experienced, mature players that have combined for thousands of high-level professional matches, Morrell represents the speed and imagination of youth. He entered this season having played just six career professional matches, but he’s earned his spot amongst the veterans and has proven himself worthy of being excited about.
2. Getting revenge
The Tampa Bay Rowdies have lost five matches this season, but have gotten pretty great at getting revenge over teams that have defeated them.
Tampa Bay lost 2-1 in Louisville on April 15, then defeated Louisville 2-0 at home on May 13. The Rowdies lost twice to the Charleston Battery, then beat them 2-0 at home on July 22. Pittsburgh beat the Rowdies in late June, then came to Al Lang last night and left with — you guessed it — a 2-0 defeat.
The only exception to the rule so far has been Rochester, who Tampa Bay lost to on the road and then tied 1-1 at home.
3. A mention for Zac
Rowdies left back Zac Portillos deserves a mention for his outstanding return to the Starting XI after a long injury absence.
Sidelined by a second ruptured Achilles’ tendon in as many seasons last year, Portillos had to be patient and wait for his chance this season, buried on the depth chart behind Schäfer and Luke Boden, but since making his first league start on July 6, Portillos has been steady on the Rowdies’ back line.
In his four matches so far, the Rowdies have only conceded one goal, a late penalty kick on the road in Orlando.