By JEFF HERNDEN

After a disappointing result in Louisville, the Rowdies needed a big performance to get back on track. And they certainly achieved that.

Head Coach Stuart Campbell returned to the same starting XI as in the home opener, opting for speed on the wings, wide play and crosses. The only disappointing aspect of this one is that the Rowdies again allowed early opportunities. This is a trend the team needs to end before teams start taking advantage of it. But on the whole, with a 5-0 result in front of an amazing crowd, I can’t complain too much.

Winger Leo Fernandes was again the Rowdies’ most dangerous attacking threat, absolutely tearing apart the defense on the left side. In fact, between defender Zac Portillos bombing forward, Marcel Schäfer putting in crosses, and Fernandes, the left side as a whole is an incredible attacking threat. An important aspect from the match is that the team spread out the scoring. Goals from forward Georgi Hristov, Fernandes, midfielder Joe Cole and Portillos prove that the team has attacking prowess across the board. Of note, this is the first match this season in which the Rowdies held a majority of the possession (60%), which eventually wore down Ottawa’s defense and paid massive dividends in the second half.

On the defensive side, Center backs Neill Collins and Hunter Gorskie both had dominant performances, winning all of their duels, keeping the team organized and limiting Ottawa to so scarce of opportunities. Cody Mizell’s one and only save wasn’t until the 76th minute. Big credit as well to defender David Najem for his sliding block preventing an Ottawa shot on target in the 2nd minute. Midfielder Jack Blake also had an improved performance on the defensive side of the ball, sitting in front of the back four and holding the midfield.
Campbell didn’t really have much to do in this one other than put the team on the field. The introductions of Sebastian GuenzattiLance Rozeboom and Jochen Graf are becoming the routine, but with Junior Flemmings not contributing on the score sheet, I am beginning to question his continued inclusion in the starting XI.
While the first half was frustrating for the team (and the fans), the Rowdies persevered. Easily the most impressive thing about this team so far this season is their improved composure, confidence and camaraderie. The TEAM mentality this season is what will carry the Rowdies through any unforeseen difficulties that inevitably come during a long season.

Manager rating: 7/10  —  Overall team rating: 9/10


Player Ratings

Starting XI:

Cody Mizell (GK): Overall a pretty quiet night for Mizell, only needing to claim one cross and did not record a save until the 76th minute. The most dangerous attack came in the 2nd minute, with Najem making the sliding block, but Mizell was nonetheless well-positioned to make a potential save there.   Player rating: 9/10

Zac Portillos (LB): Congrats to Portillos on scoring his first professional goal with the Rowdies! Overall a good performance, but was out-muscled early leading to Ottawa’s first and best chance of the game in the 2nd minute and lost most of his duels.  Player rating: 7/10

Neill Collins (CB):  Solid night for Collins, winning all of his duels while also making tackles and interceptions. He kept his back line organized and disciplined, limiting Ottawa to only one shot on target for the night, while also completing his passes at a 95% rate. Player rating: 8/10

Hunter Gorskie (CB): Like Collins, Gorskie had an excellent night winning all of his duels and keeping the back line organized. After a poor display in Louisville, this is the type of performance Gorskie needed to get back on track.  Player rating: 8/10

David Najem (RB): Perhaps the most important moment of the match was Najem’s sliding block against Ottawa’s Michael Salazar in the 2nd minute, earning himself a big hug from Mizell. Not as involved in the attack as he has been in previous matches, but overall put in a strong performance. Player rating: 8/10

Jack Blake (CM): Blake will be disappointed he didn’t score given his excellent chance in the 83rd minute, but he did notch himself another assist. Blake is steadily improving in his role holding the central midfield, winning six tackles and winning most of his duels, whilst also contributing offensively, creating two chances. Player rating: 8/10

Marcel Schäfer (CM, Subbed off 81′ – Rozeboom): Another assist from an inch-perfect cross, Schäfer had another excellent night going forward, creating three chances. Also picked up a yellow card late, leading to an immediate substitution. We love his passion, but we also don’t need him picking up needless yellow cards. Player rating: 7/10

© Joe Cole (CM):  Completed his first 90 minutes and scored his first goal of the season. Contributed on both sides of the ball, winning a few tackles while also creating chances but it is always going to be Cole’s leadership that is his best contribution. Player rating: 8/10

Leo Fernandes (LW): Man of the Match. Again. Put in the cross leading to the OG, scored one of his own, and assisted on Portillos’ goal. Fernandes was again the Rowdies biggest attacking threat of the night and is on fire to start this season. Player rating: 9/10

Junior Flemmings(RW, Subbed off 70′ – Guenzatti): Flemmings was a lively threat in this one, but really should have scored on his breakaway counter attack chance in the 3rd minute. He’s a threat who is winning us some dangerous free kicks, but overall his performances have been fairly lackluster. I can’t help but think that Guenzatti is challenging for this starting spot and that we may start seeing the re-emergence of Alex Morrell. Player rating: 6/10

Georgi Hristov(F, Subbed off 80′ – Graf): Another home match, another goal for Georgi. With all the crosses coming in left and right it was inevitable that he would get on the end of one. Registered two shots and caught offside twice. Georgi is now only two goals away from history.  Player rating: 8/10

Substitutes:

Sebastian Guenzatti (RW, Subbed on 70′ – Flemmings): Created more chances and had more shots in 20 minutes than Flemmings did in 70. Making his case for a spot in the starting XI. Player rating 7/10

Lance Rozeboom (DM, subbed on 81′ – Schäfer): Settling into the routine of coming on late to see the game out at home, with the majority of his minutes likely to come on the road. Player rating: 7/10

Jochen Graf (F, subbed on 80′ – Georgi): Dutifully earning his regular minutes at the end of the match, but with Georgi scoring it’s unlikely he will push in to the starting XI soon. Player rating: 7/10

Unused Substitutes: Fitzgerald, Lachowecki, Magalhaes, Vingaard

Photo by Patrick Paterson/The Unused Substitutes

About Jeff Hernden

I bleed Black & White, and Green & Gold. Coach, player, and fan of the beautiful game. Come on Fulham, and Come on You Rowdies!!