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Extra Time 1: Tampa Bay is our Ride or (Row)Die Club!

2018 Tampa Bay Rowdies Season Preview and Progress

At Friendly Kia, we love local sports! Whether it’s the Lightning’s surge through the Stanley Cup playoffs (ignoring last night’s game), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sometimes showing up to play football or the Rays and their unnecessarily-domed stadium, we’re all about the community behind local athletics here in Tampa Bay. Don’t believe us? Check out our other featurettes:

[Read Crow’s Nest: Buccaneers News/Analysis and Tips on Places to Cry in Public]

[Read Direct Current: Bi-Weekly News and Our Take on Lightning Games and Off-Ice Happenings]

Today, we’re introducing a brand-new featurette to the Friendly Kia blog. Extra Time is going to be our chance to publicly support the Rowdies, voice our opinions on their matches/pitch performance and share any news we think you might find interesting about the lads in green and yellow.

We’ll start by looking at how the season has shaped up after 5 matches and what we should expect from Mob City as the season progresses.

Tampa Bay Rowdies – 2018 Season Preview

With a 3rd place Group A table finish (and 8th overall) last season, the Rowdies gave us a season of both highs and lows.

By the end of the season and moving into the conference finals, you could see a team that had fought so hard throughout the season to get to the semis and had little left. It didn’t help that Evan Luoro, NYRB II’s keeper played the game of his career. The quick pace of the team on the counterattack and their high pressing compensation for a weak defense was too much and the Rowdies were out just like that.

Positives for the Rowdies

Here are what we loved about last season that we think will help the Rowdies this season:

1. Dazzling home record

Some clubs play at a stadium, and some play at a military bunker. The rowdies proved Al Lang to be the latter last season, winning 11 out of their 16 matches there and only drawing one. It sounds corny, but a great stadium atmosphere really does become the 12th man on the pitch and for Tampa Bay, the atmosphere turned Al Lang into an intimidating trip for visiting teams.

With Ralph’s Mob and the rest of the support the Rowdies enjoy, this one is on us as much as it is Hristov and the Rowdies.

2. Attack attack attack

Whether you’re talking about 2009 Barcelona or 2004 Chelsea, there are two dominant philosophies at work in the world of football. The first is technically-sound, passing play with a lot of possession and beautiful footwork. The second is a rock-and-roll kind of soccer that forces players to defend by pressing and break on the counterattack.

We saw a bit of both last season with the Rowdies. The wingback formation and Schafer’s brilliance (10 assists) lent itself well to the breakaway kind of soccer that keeps us on the edges of our seats.

The pragmatic pressing/counterattacking style came out ahead with the Rowdies proving their goal-scoring acumen by closing the latter half of the season without a single goal-less game. Even the losses are worth coming out for when you know you’ll get to jump on your feet and celebrate a Rowdies goal!

A seasoned player like Joe Cole helped immensely and we’re hoping he stays around long enough to instruct and inspire the next crop of aggressive goal-scorers.

Negatives for the Rowdies

Here are some things we think deserve attention and could hold the Rowdies back:

1. Paterson’s absence

Having moved to the Indian Super League, Tampa Bay will be without their runner-up top scorer. With players like Jochen Graf (who scored 11 goals in 30 appearances at Rochester last season) and Junior Flemmings coming in (16 in 52 for NYRB II), we think this matter has already been paid attention and are patiently waiting to see how the new arrivals fare.

2. Away Record Blues

While Al Lang Stadium became a fortress for the rowdies, their performances on the road left a lot to be desired. Finishing the season with only 3 wins from the 16 road games played could be described as shambolic, and we’re lucky that their home performances were substantial enough to keep them in league contention.

Shoring up this aspect to the team’s performance will undoubtedly turn Tampa Bay into a top-class team, and (dare we say it) could even bolster a case for MLS promotion in the future.



We’re excited for the season! At 5 games in, 3 wins and 2 losses, it’s up in the air as to what kind of season we’re going to have. Hopefully, it will be one that sees us make it through the conference semi-finals and even further into the U.S. Open Cup.


If you have any questions about our mostly-thrilling sports teams or would like to share any tickets to a Rowdies match with us, we’d love to help. Be sure to reach out to us today.

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