- Tampa Bay Rowdies (15 pts Fall, 34 pts Combined) at Minnesota United FC (29, 43)
- Saturday, October 3 8 p.m. ET
- Watch online through ESPN3 or at offical watch party at the Rowdies Den
Scouting the Loons
Like last season, the Loons field the most prolific attack in the NASL. The closest teams to Minnesota’s league-leading 47 goals are still nine goals back. Christian Ramirez is working his way up the standings with the NASL Golden Boot race and building a strong case for the Golden Ball award with his excellent Fall Season form. The 24-year-old striker has netted nine of his ten goals this year in the Fall Season, and he also leads the club with six assists. In perhaps a good omen, the Rowdies are one of the few teams that have managed to blank Ramirez this year.
Minnesota’s midfield has also rounded out in to one of the best in the league, which could spell disaster for the Rowdies. The quick, technical passing of players like Ibson and Juliano Vicentini can relieve pressure in the midfield and swiftly open up attacking angles for the Loons. Minnesota’s players work hard for each other off the ball, constantly running to offer outlet passes and create passing triangles. This roster is capable of going the length of the field and burying the ball in the net with only a few passes.
The Loons really exposesd the Rowdies on the counter in their August meeting. The Rowdies came close to returning to their lack transition defense on Wednesday when Indy threatened to break them a few times. Richard Menjivar and Juan Guerra looked lost and allowed Indy too much time to operate in the middle of the field. The Rowdies can’t afford to do that against Minnesota.
The fullbacks for Minnesota are also a vital part of the attack. Left back Justin Davis burned the Rowdies for one of his four goals this season back in August and right back Kevin Venegas (3 assists) is a constant threat with his distribution into the box.
What to Watch For
- Marcelo Saragosa was held out of Wednesday’s match due to the schedule congestion this week. The 33-year-old defensive midfielder should return for Saturday’s important match. Every central midfielder for the Rowdies this year has shown inconsistencies, but Saragosa has been a little less so compared to Menjivar.
- Ben Sweat’s status is in question due to his thigh injury. Rich Balchan was solid his first game at left back, but the Loons pose a much greater threat than the anemic Indy attack.
- Georgi Hristov cannot keep pulling his disappearing act up top if the team has any chance at the postseason. The veteran has proven his ability with nine assists this year, but the club needs him to stop dropping back so much and be more active in the final third. He currently only has two goals on the year.
- Freddy Adu shook the rust off in Jacksonville and put in a solid 90 minute performance against Indy, where he looked far away the best attacker in green and gold. Better finishing from Long Tan on any of the early chances that Adu set up and that game would have played out much differently. Playing on short rest after returning from a nagging Achilles injury will be a big fitness test for Adu.
- Juan Guerra picked up his fourth yellow card of the Fall Season on Wednesday. One more yellow for the midfielder and he will be forced to miss the following match due to accumulation.
IMAGE, TAMPA BAY ROWDIES