ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (August 6, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up their third-consecutive win Saturday night, beating the Harrisburg City Islanders 3-0 on an all-around fantastic night at Al Lang Stadium.
Here’s Three Things from the match…
1. Matt Pickens 100
Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens became the fifth player in the Modern Era to play 100 matches for the Rowdies, joining Takuya Yamada, Frankie Sanfilippo, Keith Savage and Georgi Hristov in the century club.
“It was great,” Pickens said. “Easy day. The guys made it easy for me tonight. We’re trending in the right direction. We don’t want to count our chickens until they hatch, but we’re doing all the things right. We’re playing really clean games right now and we just have to keep it going and try not to think about it too much.”
Pickens was welcomed to the field by an incredible tifo from Ralph’s Mob and ended up wearing the captain’s armband when Joe Cole departed the match after only seven minutes.
Pickens didn’t have a ton to do in the match, being asked to make just two saves, posting his seventh clean sheet of the season and third in a row. The Rowdies haven’t conceded a goal at home since the fifth minute of a draw against the Rochester Rhinos on June 10, a streak of 445 minutes.
“He was great,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “He’s done great to get to 100 appearances. It was a fantastic performance by the whole team. The guys in front of him made sure he had an extremely easy night.”
2. In great form
After a slump in June, the Rowdies are now on a five-match unbeaten run with four wins in that time. If not for a penalty kick given against the Rowdies deep in stoppage time of a 1-1 draw against Orlando City B on July 13, Tampa Bay could well be on a five-match winning streak.
As it is, the Rowdies’ three-straight clean sheets match the Modern Era club record set from July 15 to July 28 of the 2012 season. A win next week in Saint Louis would equal Tampa Bay’s record for most consecutive wins at 4.
Looking around the USL standings, the Rowdies are tied with the Sacramento Republic FC for the best form in the league over the last five matches. Both clubs have won four games and drawn one in that time, picking up 13 of the last 15 available points. That momentum has carried the Rowdies to within two points of the Charlotte Independence at the top of the Eastern Conference despite Charlotte’s 11-game unbeaten run.
3. Schäfer the Creator
Rowdies midfielder Marcel Schäfer has been into one of the Rowdies’ best creators over recent weeks. He assisted two goals last night to run his count to a team-high six assists. The Rowdie’s three-match home stand has featured four assists from Schäfer.
In the early months of the season, Schäfer alternated between a defensive midfield role and the left back position he played for so long with Germany’s VfL Wolfsburg. Since establishing himself as a midfielder, and being given the freedom to roam further upfield in Tampa Bay’s nascent 4-3-3 formation, Schäfer has been a constant threat with his crosses from the left side.