By Jeff Hernden
The Rowdies got struck back against Louisville City to on Saturday night with an impressive two-goal swing in the second to take the match. It was a memorable night for veteran Georgi Hristov as became the team’s record holder for the appearances in the modern era, and the rest of the squad improved from last week’s scoreless draw in Ottawa.
Here are Jeff’s rating from the match.
Starting XI: (4-2-3-1)
Matt Pickens (GK): A big punching clearance in the first half, a solid save late in the second, defended four corners and a few set pieces. Only complaint is that he didn’t strike his clearances well. Solid game for Pickens and another clean sheet. Rating – 7.5/10
Marcel Schäfer (LB): Improved from last week’s performance, especially going forward. Spent most of the match in the midfield third. Defended well with some good clearances, two tackles won, and completed 90 percent of his passes. Picked up a yellow card for dissent. Rating – 7/10
Neill Collins (CB): Yet another solid night defensively. Won tackles, won aerial duels, tracked back, made three interceptions, had nine clearances. Also had a questionable yellow card. The night’s best defender. Rating – 7.5/10
Damion Lowe (CB): Late on a couple tackles leading to one yellow card, but otherwise defended well when called on. Made one tackle, four interceptions and six clearances. His partnership with Collins is developing nicely. Rating – 7/10
Darnell King (RB): Early second half yellow card but King continued to play careful yet aggressively for the rest of the match. Picked up ix tackles, three interceptions, and six clearances. He even got forward and contributed a few decent crosses. Rating – 7/10
Martin Vingaard (DM): More involved than last week. He had 63 touches, three shots, three tackles, four interceptions, six clearances and an 88 percent pass completion rate. Vingaard worked well with Chavez to keep Louisville out of Tampa Bay’s defensive third. Rating – 7/10
Justin Chavez (DM): Vingaard did the lion’s share of the work in this match while Chavez was quiet. Spent most of his night keeping shape and providing support. Effective but underwhelming. Rating – 6/10
Leo Fernandes (M): Low performer of the match. Didn’t provide energy or an attacking threat. Only had 23 touches in his 53 minutes on the field, with a pass success rate of 69 percent. Georgi should start here. Rating – 4/10
Joe Cole (M): Recovered from hamstring injury and had a vast improvement from his last performance. Cole brought the energy and creativity everyone expects from him. He creating four chances and provided his first assist of the season along with a shot on target. Hit the wall late and should have come off sooner. Rating – 7.5/10
Darwin Jones (M): Energetic and aggressive going forward. Not afraid to take on defenders on the dribble, but needs to improve his passing in the attacking third. Put a couple shots on target and worked well with Georgi and Brown in the second half. Rating – 7/10
Deshorn Brown (F): About half of his touches were in the attacking third of the field, but only one in the opposing penalty area. Quiet night aside from the goal, but worked well opening space for Georgi and Cole. Strong partnership developing between those three. Needs more service. Rating – 7/10
Georgi Hristov (F): Came on in the 53rd minute for Fernandes and made an instant impact. Scored a beauty after only six minutes on the field. His inclusion changed the game and provided the spark needed to break the deadlock. Should start. Rating – 8/10 –Man of the Match
Martin Paterson (F): Came on in the 78th minute for Brown. Provided a target to hold up play and manage the win. Not many touches, but did his job. Rating – 6/10
Michael Nanchoff (M): 89th minute sub for Cole to waste a bit of time and provide some energy for the final few minutes. Rating – 5/10
Unused Substitutes: Akira Fitzgerald, Luke Boden, Tamika Mkandawire, Alex Morrell.
Stuart Campbell (Manager): Best decision of the night was to bring Georgi on early in the second half, but with Fernandes’ performances over the past few matches, Georgi should have started. The Rowdies’ ability to get in to the attacking third and create chances this week was more due to Louisville’s attacking style, rather than any changes Campbell made. They were also uncharacteristically careless in possession, especially in the first half, with several cheap giveaways leading to counter attacks. It was an even match from two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, but the Rowdies created more and executed better. Defense bent but never broke, and Pickens came up big when needed. With a busy run of fixtures coming up, let’s see how many changes Campbell makes for the Open Cup match against the Armada U-23s on Tuesday. I was perhaps generous on last week’s scores due to a tough away match and weather conditions, so scores didn’t rise much this week despite an improved performance. The good news is the team is winning despite loads of room for improvement. Manager rating – 6.5/10 — Overall team rating – 7.5/10
IMAGE, PATRICK PATTERSON