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 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Preview: Rowdies vs El Paso

April 19, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Tampa Bay Rowdies News Release

After two weeks away, the Tampa Bay Rowdies are back in town for a two-match home stand. First up at Al Lang Stadium is a matchup with Western Conference side El Paso Locomotive FC. The Rowdies are aiming to remain as one of the few unbeaten teams left in the USL Championship after a dominant 5-2 win over Miami FC last Thursday.

"In Miami I think we played the way we wanted to play," said Rowdies Head Coach Robbie Neilson. "It's difficult to win away from home in this league. To go to Miami and score so many goals was great. Now we've got two home games at Al Lang and hopefully we can look forward to two home games and two results."

Scouting El Paso

El Paso comes into Al Lang looking to pick up their first win of the season. Winless through their first six matches of the year, El Paso has dropped four straight league matches and were knocked out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after falling to Union Omaha in penalties on Wednesday night. El Paso has netted five goals and conceded 10 so far in 2024.

"El Paso is always a team that keeps the ball very well," said Rowdies forward Cal Jennings. "They've got some talented players. I'm actually surprised they're in the spot that they are but I recognize they're not getting results. They'll be hungry and have a game plan but we'll be ready for them. We don't want them to get any points off us at home. We want to make it a fortress at Al Lang."

Dennis' Return

Along with the three points picked up in Miami, the Rowdies were also boosted by the return of midfielder Charlie Dennis, who had missed the preseason and first few weeks of the season due to injury. Dennis, who bagged 11 goals for Tampa Bay in 2023, entered as a second-half substitute against Miami.

"Being out pretty much all of preseason was pretty tough but it's part of the game," said Dennis. "It felt great to be out there. I missed it so much. It felt like I was a kid playing football again. It was great. The games at Al Lang were unbelievable. The support we have is amazing. Hopefully I'll see some familiar faces. I can't wait to get the boots back on this Saturday."

With Dennis back in the fold and Nick Moon also close to making his first appearance of the season, competition within the squad is increasing week by week.

"The first couple of games of the season, we didn't have much competitiveness because of the injuries," said Neilson. "We were limited on the bench. Whereas now we've got Leo Fernandes coming back, Charlie Dennis and Nick Moon coming back. It just makes competition for spots so high. It also gives us the opportunity after 50 or 60 minutes to make changes to the team that really bring the level of the team up as well."

Capitalizing on Home Advantage

The Rowdies will have home field advantage quite a bit over the two months. Six of the club's next seven league matches are set to take place at Al Lang Stadium. A good string of results for the Rowdies over the next few weeks would go a long way toward putting them in a good place come the end of the season.

"I think the home games are really important," said Neilson. "It's different for me. I'm used to more home, away, home, away. But because of the weather here you've got a lot of home games now and then more away in the second half of the season, so it's really important we pick up points now."

Rowdies Availability Report:

OUT DUE TO INJURY: Zane Bubb, Zach Herivaux


Matchday Info:

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs El Paso Locomotive FC

Saturday April 20, 7:30 p.m. ET

Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, FL

2024 Records:

Rowdies: 2W-0L-3D, 9 pts, 4th East (1-0-1 at home)

El Paso: 0W-5L-1D, 1 pt, 11th West (0-2-0 on the road)

Tickets: Fans can purchase tickets here or at the stadium box office starting at 4 p.m. on matchday

Tune in: ESPN+, Tampa Bay 44

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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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