- Tampa Bay Rowdies (14 pts Fall, 33 pts Combined) Host Indy Eleven (12, 25)
- Al Lang Stadium, Wednesday 7:30 p.m. ET
- Grab tickets for the match here or by calling 727-222-2200
- Watch locally on Great 38 TV or online through ESPN3
The past month has not been kind to Indy Eleven. The club has dropped four of their past five matches and currently sits at the bottom of both Fall and combined season standings. Of course, the Rowdies went up against the last place team last weekend and lost out 2-0, so Wednesday’s match is far from a guaranteed win.
In their rough five-game stretch Indy has conceded 12 goals (seven in one game against Fort Lauderdale) and netted only four. For the year, they are third in goals allowed (39) and tied for least goals scored (27). A promising 3-0 victory over Jacksonville on September 5 was promptly followed by two 2-0 losses.
Dane Richards, on loan from the New York Red Bulls, has been the closest thing to a consistent scorer for the club in the Fall Season. But even his impressive pace has only amounted to three goals in 12 appearances. His first goal for the club, though, did come against Tampa Bay back in August through a quick counter attack.
Indy made a move to boost the attack with the signing of U.S. youth player Daniel Cuevas last month. The 22-yeard old attacking midfielder made his debut in the club’s last outing as Victor Pineda was out with an injury. Cuevas showed some positive signs, but he failed to make the all-important final connection with his teammates.
Indy has been sitting idle for nearly two weeks, so they should in all likelihood be well rested. Some teams can show rust after such a long break, but the last time Indy faced such a long break they came out ad swiftly dismissed the Rowdies 2-0.
What to Watch For
- That 2-0 loss to Indy on August 19 was the final match of the Thomas Rongen era. Since the firing, the Rowdies have showed some signs of improvement but have still struggled to find any kind of consistency. The stretch under Stuart Campbell has gone as follows: L, D, W, L, W, L. A run like that isn’t as depressing a long losing streak, but the up and down nature of it is certainly maddening. The final stretch doesn’t get any easier for the Rowdies. They alternate between home and away matches to close out the season.
- Freddy Adu made his much anticipated return to the field last weekend for another late-game appearance. He was thrown out on to the right wing again, but failed to make the same impact as he did in his previous appearance. How Campbell integrates Adu moving forward will be interesting considering that Darnell King has been solid in his time on the right wing. Adu prefers a central role that doesn’t seem to quite jive with Campbell’s current system.
- Finding the right spot for Long Tan will also be important. He made his debut against Jacksonville and was ineffectual on the left wing. He seemed to float more up top as the game wore on, which might be more in line with his abilities. Starting forward Brian Shriver has a good work rate but his finishing has been suspect in recent weeks.
- The Rowdies absolutely need to handle their business against the reeling Indy Eleven this week because it will be one of the few times they play a club below 7th in the final run of games. Following Indy, Tampa Bay will match up with Minnesota, Ottawa, Atlanta, Carolina and New York. Atlanta may be 7th in the overall standings, but even they are only three points back of the Rowdies.
IMAGE, TAMPA BAY ROWDIES