by JAKE NUTTING
With the midpoint of the USL Championship season fast approaching it’s time to see what moves teams will start making in hopes of improving their chances at taking home the USL Cup, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies have apparently already gotten involved in the action.
Unused Substitutes has learned that Rowdies forward Brandon Allen has been acquired outright by expansion side Memphis 901 FC this week. Memphis is in desperate need of goals as it ranks dead last in that category in both the eastern and western conference with just 12 tallies through 14 matches. Unsurprisingly, the club’s scoring woes has it 16th in the east, just two points ahead of the last place Swope Park Rangers.
Allen, 25, has scored just once in league play for the Rowdies this year, burying the final goal in the team’s 4-1 rout of Atlanta United 2 back in April. He also recorded three goals in Tampa Bay’s two matches in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The attacker has been chasing the same level of production he had in his two seasons with New York Red Bulls II in 2016 and 2017, when he notched 24 goals. A loan to Minnesota United in 2017 amounted to just one appearance and zero goals and a move to Bethlehem Steel FC last year resulted in just two goals in a handful of appearances. A transfer midway through the year from Bethlehem to Nashville saw a slight return to form as he scored 8 goals, but that productivity has failed to carry over into this season with the Rowdies.
While the Rowdies remain first in the Eastern Conference for the time being and have still only dropped one league match, they have room for improvement when it comes to scoring. The club’s 24-goal tally is tied with four other sides for 13th in the league. Attackers Sebastian Guenzatti and Juan Tejada account for 13 of those goals. Allen is the only other forward on roster who has scored in a league match so far. Antoine Hoppenot, Leon Taylor, Malik Johnson and Jaime Siaj are all scoreless for the time being. Siaj in the only player who has yet to take the field as he’s recovered from an injury suffered in preseason, though he is expected to be ready for selection soon.
Moving Allen would open up space for the Rowdies to bring in another player to reinforce the roster as the competition in the USL intensifies in the final months. Unlike last year, the Rowdies are operating from a place of confidence when it comes roster tinkering. A host of injuries and a couple retirements left the Rowdies desperate for bodies at certain points last year. As they now sit high up on the table they can take their time finding just the right pieces to add.
Photo by Patrick Patterson/Unused Substitutes