So, uh, Tampa Bay Rowdies? I went to the source to find out more about tomorrow opponent: Dan Endonino of the Unused Substitutes podcast. Follow him on Twitter for all your Rowdies news.
For Club and Country: The big question for the Rowdies so far this year has been a split between home and road form. What’s behind the difference, and why should Nashville be worried about heading into Al Lang Stadium?
Dan Endonino: The home/road split is something that’s baffled us for years now. Through the Rowdies modern incarnation it’s almost a mirror split record wise. It spans players and coaches. Nobody can quite figure out what the issue is. Nashville should be a little worried coming to Al Lang because it’s proven to be a rough place to play. Between the Florida heat and the raucous crowd, it seems to get in visitors heads.
FCAC: There have been some major changes already this year. What has Neill Collins provided since taking over as coach, and how has the team adapted to not having him available on the pitch?
DE: This question is incredibly difficult to answer with certainty. Our defense is wrecked by injury, our two best players are suspended this week. Neill Collins hasn’t fully had a chance to make a full impression on the team yet. Ivan Magalhaes has filled Neill’s boots nicely at that left center back position, but it’s always rough losing your best defender and leader on the field.
FCAC: Speaking of not being available, both Marcel Schäfer and Joe Cole will serve suspensions for this match. How important are they to the team, and who steps up to fill those voids?
DE: Marcel and Joe are the leaders on the field by far. Their experience and talent are surely going to be missed this week. Obviously not knowing the line up, I would think Georgi Hristov and Martin Vingaard will be the elder statesmen and help guide the team in this one.
FCAC: Who are some of the key defensive players that Nashville fans are going to be frustrated about when they watch the game Saturday?
DE: Hunter Gorskie is the guy to watch on defense. He started the season a bit shaky, but has been rounding into form. He can score a goal off a set piece and is a solid center back. If he’s playing well, the Rowdies are in good shape.
FCAC: What do you predict for the Rowdies’ starting XI? Any other specific predictions (including a final score)?
DE: I think we’ll see the 4-4-2 Collins has been toying with. Likely the same front two of Jochen Graf and Junior Flemmings with Jack Blake, Leo Fernandes, and maybe Sebastian Guenzatti with Vingaard anchoring the midfield. Max Lachowecki, Ivan Magalhaes, Hunter Gorskie with Kyle Coringa if he’s healthy. I’m hoping for 2-1 Rowdies win, but after seeing what Nashville can do defensively, wouldn’t be surprised if this ends in a 0-0 draw.