The Tampa Bay Rowdies are starting to make some noise. After a slow start to the season, the Rowdies have rattled off three straight victories. They currently find themselves sitting fourth in the USL Championship Eastern Conference, just four points behind the first-place Charleston Battery.
With a lot of eyes on El Paso Locomotive and their seven-game unbeaten run the Rowdies have flown a bit under the radar. Make no mistake though, the Rowdies mean business.
Tampa Rowdies Making Some Noise After a Slow Start
Not our night.
— Tampa Bay Rowdies (@TampaBayRowdies) March 26, 2023
Tampa Bay managed just one win in their opening seven matches. Outside of their 3-0 loss to the Charleston Battery, in which Tampa Bay found themselves down 2-0 by the 11-minute, the Rowdies had been in a lot of hard-fought games ending in draws or tight losses.
Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins knew his team had the talent to compete with anyone, but felt they were being their own worst enemy. Following their 1-0 loss to the San Diego Loyal in April, Collins had the following to say: “It kind of sums up where we are right now, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit when we’re in important moments in the game.”
The loss to San Diego seemed to spark something in the Rowdies’ players. They responded by defeating Detroit City FC in their next match, 1-0. A tightly contested affair where the deadlock was not broken until a Charlie Dennis 79-minute penalty put the Rowdies ahead.
In the following match, Tampa Bay put together a dominant performance against Phoenix Rising FC. Despite having less possession, the Rowdies controlled the match from start to finish, winning 2-0. JJ Williams opened the scoring in the 10th minute and Dennis added a second just before half-time allowing the Rowdies to cruise through the second half to a second straight victory.
Momentum was building as the Rowdies prepared to play Detroit City for the second time in just over two weeks. A first-half JJ Williams hat trick set the tone for Rowdies as they proceeded to deliver a 5-1 thrashing to the team from Detroit. Charlie Dennis added another first-half goal and Dayonn Harris added the fifth just after half-time.
Williams had nothing but praise for his teammates following the resounding victory: “Honestly, it was my teammates. I can’t say enough or give them enough praise. Everything they did put me in a good spot to be successful.”
Rowdies Look to Stay Hot
While some may believe Williams was just being humble, his words certainly have truth behind them as things are clicking on all cylinders for Tampa Bay right now. The Rowdies look like a well-oiled machine from back to front. They’ve scored eight goals and conceded just one during their winning streak.
— Tampa Bay Rowdies (@TampaBayRowdies) May 17, 2023
JJ Williams and Charlie Dennis have been deadly up front, scoring four and three goals respectively. While Williams and Dennis have been the main goal threats, five other Rowdies’ players have contributed goals. They’ve also had eight different players with assists on the season. Tampa Bay is showing that they’re capable of generating scoring opportunities from a multitude of avenues.
Unsurprisingly, the Rowdies’ defense has seriously improved since the loan signing of Ryan Spaulding from the New England Revolution. Spaulding joined Tampa Bay just before their winning run began and has helped bring stability to the back line. Goalkeeper Connor Sparrow has also performed brilliantly with a number of multi-save performances on the season.
The Rowdies look to continue making noise as they take on Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports of a Headshot of JJ Williams and a Headshot of Corey Baird on April 26, 2023.
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