- Tampa Bay visits Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, August 15th, at 7:30pm at Lockhart Stadium
- The Rowdies currently sit atop the Coastal Cup Standings with 9 points. Fort Lauderdale is in second with 6, and Jacksonville is last with zero.
- The Strikers defeated the Rowdies 3-1 in their last match, on July 25th at Al Lang
- For those not traveling to the match, you can view it on ESPN3. Watch parties are being held at the Rowdies Den in St. Petersburg and the Shamrock Pub in Sarasota.
Scouting the Strikers:
It’s only been a few weeks since these teams last met, and all of the points that Jake made in his week 4 preview (link) are still valid. The Rowdies will no doubt have taken note of New York’s comeback last week, scoring 3 goals in the last 30 minutes, and will hope their recent success on the counter-attack combined with their late-game fitness and depth will serve them well. Since Week 4, the Strikers have collected a total of 1 point from 9 available, losing 2-0 at the Cosmos, 2-1 at Atlanta, then throwing away a 3-0 lead and 2 points at home last weekend to New York. The draw will be especially bittersweet as the Strikers looked set to be the second Florida side to conquer the Cosmos, and they would have done it without the services of forward Stefano Pinho, midfielder James Marcelin, and defender Karsten Smith, all of whom were serving red card suspensions from the Atlanta match. All 3, plus newcomer Hendry Thomas who played 90 minutes in the defensive midfield role last week, will be available for selection this weekend. Listed as injured for this match are M Christian Blandon; GK David Meves; GK Joe Nasco and D Daniel Navarro.
What to watch for:
- With the exception of Keith Savage and Zac Portillos (injury) and Darwin Espinal (international duty), Thomas Rongen will have the healthiest and deepest roster of players to choose from in a while this weekend. Both Freddy Adu and Stefan Antonijevic have returned to training and should make the trip to Fort Lauderdale.
- Welcome “Home?” This will be the first match at Lockhart for former Strikers Darnell King, Martin Nunez, Stefan Antonijevic, Kamil Contofalsky, and Justin Chavez, who relocated from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa Bay after the last Fall season. Gale Agboussomonde and Brian Shriver also called Lockhart home earlier in their careers. Thomas Rongen also played for the Strikers during the days of the original NASL.
- Rongen won’t be the only Original NASL Era Striker in the building on Saturday as his former teammate, and current beIN Sports commentator Ray Hudson has said he will be present as well. Also on hand will be at least 60 Rowdies fans making the trip over by bus or other means.
- The away fans can put one hand on the Coastal Cup with a win, as that would give the Rowdies a commanding 12-6-0 lead in the points standings, with Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville still having two matches to play. A win or draw for the Rowdies will eliminate Jacksonville from contention. A win would also see the Rowdies climb the Fall season table and could put them into a tie for second in the combined table, depending on other results.