Hushing the Rowdies
This Saturday, ATL UTD 2 (2-6-3) are set to continue their handful of matches away from home and face the play-off contenders, Tampa Bay Rowdies (5-5-1) in the Al Lang Stadium. The Rowdies have not lost a single game at home in the regular season of the USL (United Soccer League) and have established a sort of fortress playing in their home stadium. Currently, the Rowdies sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference and will undoubtedly be a difficult opponent for ATL UTD 2, who are flirting with the 14th spot in the Eastern Conference but currently remain in 15th, ahead of only the Ottawa Fury.
Youth-anize the Pitch
Last week, ATL UTD 2’s youth and inexperience was evident from the start of the match. It took a long time for ATL UTD 2 to really get their feet under them and even then, it can be argued that they never truly did. With the Full-Time score of 4-0, all fingers pointed to the defensive line and the miscommunication between defenders. Not to take away from the great performance of ex-Atlanta United goalkeeper, Alex Tambakis, but North Carolina FC (NCFC) was given entirely too much space throughout the match. Multiple open looks on goal led to a 7th minute NCFC score opener by Cameroon born Forward, Ulrich Ewolo. After this early goal, things didn’t get better for ATL UTD 2.
While inexperience and youth seem to be a weakness of the ATL UTD 2 lineup, it is also one of their strongest points. With this being the inaugural season, ATL UTD 2 is not expected to head to the playoffs or even crack the top 10 in the Eastern Conference standings, and I’m okay with that. This year is a year for learning (coaches and players included) tweaking things here and there, and adjusting to the pace of the competition.
In their last match, Tampa Bay outscored Toronto FC II in a very one sided affair with a 4-2 score. ATL UTD 2 has to be very careful when matching up against the Rowdies this Saturday. The Rowdies have a tendency to make some beautiful diagonal runs into the penalty area and have no trouble finishing the play. Other than technical ability, the Rowdies can also capitalize using set pieces. With this in mind, ATL UTD 2 needs a cohesive back line to show up for the match and in order for them to be in the same page, they need to talk to each other. Even against some of the bigger teams, there’s no doubt that ATL have been able to find the back of the net. Once ATL UTD 2 has their defense in order, they can keep the score in their favor and get a win on the road.
Most Dangerous Player:
MDP: Marcel Shaffer – 3 assists, 11 apps.
ATL UTD 2: 3
Tampa Bay Rowdies: 2
Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1
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