Two teams with different momentums after the 1-1 tie at the beginning of the season face each other tonight. After that tie in March, Saint Louis FC and Tampa Bay Rowdies stayed at the top of the east conference for a few weeks until Saint Louis started a winless streak of eight games that sent it to the 11th position of the conference. Tampa Bay continued its streak of good results in sits in first place three points ahead of New York Red Bulls II.
After that 1-1 tie at Toyota Stadium, Saint Louis got 14 points from 3 wins, 5 loses and 5 ties. Last week, Saint Louis lost 2-1 at Charlotte Independence. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Rowdies got 33 points from 9 wins, 1 loss and 6 ties. Tampa comes with a streak of five games undefeated with 3 wins and 2 ties. Last week, Tampa tied 1-1 at Pittsburg Riverhounds.
Sebastian Guenzatti, Leo Fernandes y Juan Tejada lead the Rowdies. Guenzatti scored 10 goals this season and Tejada is the second scorer with 7 goals. Leo Fernandes has scored twice and leads the team in assists with 4. Guenzatti and Fernandez had a good game against Saint Louis FC in March and most of the offensive plays when through their feet. Tejada played in the second half but with his goals has earned a place in the starting lineup.
Saint Louis arrives to this match with a lot of injured players but also has new faces. Joaquín Rivas and Matt Thomas had knee surgeries and will be out between two and three months. Audi Jepson, Albert Dikwa and Guy Abend are injured too and will not be available. With so many injuries and Austin Martz’s retirement a few weeks ago, the team had to get more players and in the last week hired midfielders Masta Kacher and Collin Fernandez who will be available for tonight’s match.
Tough game for Saint Louis due to the present form but with the US Open Cup over, it switches focus to the league and had a full week to recover and prepare for this duel. There is a little bit of urgency as the team is now out of postseason positions and this is a good opportunity to turnaround the season. The team must remember the good level of play from the beginning of the season and from the US Open Cup matches against MLS competition. Saint Louis had better results against teams on the upper part of the table that tend to attack more and leave space for the counterattack. Tampa Bay could be one of the opponents during the postseason and tonight’s match could show what this Saint Louis FC is made for.
Kickoff is tonight at 6:30 pm. The St. Louligans will get together at Llywelyn’s Pub in Webster Groves to watch and support the team from the distance.