From: Rowdies/Latest News
April 21st, 2016
Rowdies Ready for Railhawks Test
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 21, 2016)
Al Lang Stadium is set to host a clash of unbeaten teams Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Rowdies take on the visiting Carolina RailHawks.
It’s early in the season and no team has played more than three matches, but already, eight of 11 teams competing in the NASL Spring Season have lost at least once. The only remaining unbeaten times are Tampa Bay, Carolina and the Indy Eleven.
Carolina’s unbeaten record is perfect. The RailHawks have won all three matches they’ve played in 2016 to earn the maximum of nine points. Tampa Bay and Indy have five points each with records of 1-2-0 (W-T-L).
The stage is set for a crucial early season showdown.
“We definitely look forward to games like this,” Rowdies midfielder Michael Nanchoff said. “It helps that we’re coming off three points, our first win of the season. It gives us a little extra motivation to know that they’re top of the league right now. With a win, we would be within one point of them. Most importantly, it’s crucial that we always win at home, so that’s even more reason to get these three points.”
Comparing Tampa Bay and Carolina, there aren’t a ton of differences, statistically. Carolina’s games have been higher-scoring, with the RailHawks scoring six goals so far and conceding three. Tampa Bay has scored two and conceded one, for the same 2:1 ratio.
Matt Pickens has kept two clean sheets in 2016, compared to one for Carolina’s Akira Fitzgerald, and the Rowdies have an edge in average possession percentage, 57.2 percent to 49.4. The teams have similar numbers in passing completion percentage Tampa Bay has the edge with 79.7 percent compared to Carolina’s 77.4 percent.
“They’re on a good run, but we’ve got to keep the focus on ourselves,” Rowdies defender Darnell King said. “We have to do what we do best first and then try to expose their weaknesses. They’ve got guys I’ve played with, so I know what they’re capable of. They’ve got goalscorers and they like to kill on the attack, so we’ve got to be aware of that and stay sharp in the defensive third. In the offensive third, we need to put our chances away when we get them.”
While both teams come into the match off at least one win, the Rowdies believe the mesmerizing nature of their win last weekend may give a little extra rise.
That night, Tampa Bay held a 1-0 edge over FC Edmonton deep into stoppage time when Neill Collins was whistled for a handball in the Rowdies’ 18-yard box and the Eddies were awarded a penalty kick. Tomi Ameobi stepped up to take the penalty, but was stonewalled by Matt Pickens in goal on the final kick of the match to preserve the result.
“I think that one moment can change the course of a season,” Nanchoff said. “I’m a firm believer in that. With the unfortunate call against us in the box and then Matt Pickens making a phenomenal save, that gives us an extra boost.”
Tickets for Saturday’s showdown are available by calling the Rowdies ticket office at (727) 222-2000 or by clicking here.