Tampa Bay Rowdies at Louisville City FC
Saturday, March 31 – 3 p.m.
Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, Kentucky
Follow us for live updates on Twitter at @RowdiesGameday
Head to Big Storm Brewing Co.’s taproom on Saturday afternoon for the Rowdies’ official watch party. If you wear Rowdies gear, you’ll get $1 off all pints AND enjoy a free pint every time the Rowdies score. The taproom is located at 12707 49th St. N, Clearwater.
Louisville City FC: 1-0-0, 3 points, 4th place
Tampa Bay: 2-0-0, 6 points, 2nd place
The Rowdies and Louisville have met only twice, with the home team winning on both occasions last year. Louisville won 2-1 in Louisville on April 15, while the Rowdies won the return fixture 2-0 on May 13. Of the three Rowdies to score against Louisville last season, only Georgi Hristov remains. Martin Paterson and Deshorn Brown were the others.
The Rowdies have opened the year in strong form, earning wins in both trips out so far, topping North Carolina FC 3-1 away from home on opening weekend and then following that up with a 2-0 home win over Bethlehem Steel FC last week.
Tampa Bay Head Coach Stuart Campbell made only one change to his team last week, handing a start to Junior Flemmings on the right wing in place of Michael Nanchoff. Flemmings’ Rowdies debut was short-lived as he exited the match in the 33rd minute with a minor injury. Flemmings is expected to be available this weekend.
Leo Fernandes and Georgi Hristov have scored a goal in each of the Rowdies matches so far this season to lead the team in scoring. Fernandes was perhaps unlucky to not score twice last week, with an apparent goal being called off by the match officials for not fully crossing the line. He was named to the USL Team of the Week on Tuesday afternoon.
With two goals to his name so far in 2018, Hristov is now just two goals short of tying Rowdies legend Derek Smethurst for the all-time franchise scoring record of 57 goals. Smethurst played for the Rowdies from 1975 to 1978. Hristov has scored at least once in the Rowdies’ last six matches dating back to the end of the 2017 season.
Goalkeeper Cody Mizell has been impressive in his second stint with the Rowdies, having won the starting goalkeeper position in a tight preseason battle and making the most of his chance through the first two weeks. Mizell has 11 saves to his name in 2018, including four last week to pick up his first clean sheet. He previously played for the Rowdies in 2014, though he made only four appearances that year.
Scouting Louisville City FC
Louisville City FC had a fairly quiet offseason after winning the 2017 USL Cup, keeping things consistent for the most part. The champions opened the season as home two weeks ago, beating expansion side Nashville SC 2-0 with goals from Luke Spencer and Niall McCabe after halftime.
Louisville had the weekend off last week after its scheduled match against North Carolina FC was called off Saturday morning due to unplayable conditions following heavy rains in the area. LCFC hasn’t played since March 17 due to that unplanned bye week.
Slugger Field is notoriously tough to play in for opposing teams due to its unique set-up. Louisville posted 11 wins and only two losses at home in the regular season last year en route to earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. In four postseason matches at Slugger Field last season, Louisville conceded only one goal.