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 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Match Preview: Rowdies at Hartford

June 20, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Tampa Bay Rowdies News Release

The Tampa Bay Rowdies face their first of three straight away days this Friday as they make their way up north to battle Hartford Athletic. Following an important win over first-place Louisville City FC last Saturday, the Rowdies are aiming to not lose any steam as they look to push up further in the standings.

"Last Saturday is done now. We're on to next week." said midfielder Lewis Hilton. "It kind of makes the [Louisville] result irrelevant if we don't follow it up this week. So, full focus is on Friday and taking the positives from Saturday into that."

Turf Adjustments

Friday will be the Rowdies third match played on artificial turf this season. The outcomes of the two prior turf matches were underwhelming, a scoreless draw in Pittsburgh and a 1-0 defeat at Oakland. The team will need to find a way to turn around the form on turf sooner rather than later, as all three of their next matches will be played on artificial turf.

"Every turf is different, that's actually the difficulty of it," said Rowdies Head Coach Robbie Neilson. "It's not until you actually turn up that you see what you've got. I think the [turf] in Hartford is a decent standard so we should be able to play some soccer on it... Depending on what it's like, a lot of times it's more direct, it's more getting in behind teams. So we may alter a little bit, but we still want to keep the core of how we want to play. We don't want to be too influenced by it."

Niyongabire Team of the Week

Midfielder Pacifique Niyongabire earned his first USL Championship Team of the Week selection after providing the game-winning assist versus Louisville. The Burundi international has logged 719 minutes in 13 league appearances for the Rowdies so far.

Jennings Nears 60

Cal Jennings bagged his 9th goal of the campaign last week versus Louisville, putting him one tally away from his 60th career goal in the USL Championship. Across all competitions, Jennings has now scored 31 goals in 50 appearances for the Rowdies.

Scouting Hartford

Now in their sixth season of existence, Hartford Athletic are on their sixth head coach in club history. Former Bethlehem Steel FC and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC Head Coach Brendan Burke has taken the reins in Hartford after serving one season as an assistant with Houston Dynamo in MLS. Hartford has yet to find consistency through the first of the season so far, as they sit just outside of a playoff position in 9th in the Eastern Conference standings.

Through their first 13 matches, Hartford have conceded 23 goals and tallied only 13 goals. On the defensive side, Hartford has made moves in recent weeks to bring in reinforcements as they have acquired defenders Michael DeShields from Pittsburgh and Younes Boudadi from Indy Eleven.

"Hartford have got real pace up top," said Neilson. "We press aggressively, so we obviously need to be ready for counter attacks and balls in behind us. That will influence our defensive aspect, but in possession it's still about playing the way we always want to play."

Availability Report

OUT: Zane Bubb (Knee), Leo Fernandes (Calf)

QUESTIONABLE: Blake Bodily (Hamstring), Nick Moon (Hamstring)


Tampa Bay Rowdies at Hartford Athletic FC

Friday, June 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

Trinity Health Stadium, Hartford, CT

2024 League Records:

Rowdies: 7W-3L-4D, 25 pts, 4th East (2-2-2 on the road)

Hartford: 10W-1L-2D, 32 pts, 1st West (4-2-1 on the road)

Tune In: Friday's match will be available to stream exclusively on CBS Sports Golazo. Fans can also follow along on SiriusXM FC Channel 157

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United Soccer League Championship Stories from June 20, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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