Devil in the details

Last year, the Strikers won their first Coastal Cup. In our house. That bitter taste still remains in my mouth. The 2015 edition of this long standing rivalry begins  on Saturday. Can the Rowdies come away with a win or do we tumble down the Coastal Cup standings? After last week’s listless performance in Ottawa, I have more than a few questions. So, like any good nerd would do, I watched some Strikers games, mainly the 3-1 win against Ottawa and the 0-0 draw with the Silverbacks.

Marcelo Neveleff’s men line up in a 4-4-2 formation, but a very fluid one. They love to attack with pace and numbers with a tendency to focus on the wings and hitting their striker or streaking center mid with a well placed through ball. Fort Lauderdale are deadly on the counter although  they can be patient as well. The men in the red and yellow hoops are constantly in motion, creating space for the ball carrier who normally only takes two touches before its passed and they start to move and create more space. Depending on how Coach Rongen sets up the Rowdies, this could cause problems for us defensively. Tamika Mkandawire and Stefan Antonijevic will have to stay vigilant. On the outside, assuming King gets the nod, he will have his hands full with PC and Ben Sweat will likely need the help of Marcelo Saragosa or Antonijevic to quell Leo Moura.

Defensively is where the Strikers are most vulnerable. They like to play a high line to limit the space of the opposing offense but its a risky strategy against a team with the technical ability and speed of the Rowdies. A few quick passes through the midfield and to our own pacy forwards should see us through on goal. Whether its Martin Nunez or Richard Menijivar  in the midfield with  Saragosa and Georgi Hristov they will be key to transitioning us into an attack.

Thomas Rongen has said a few times in speaking with us that he doesn’t like to change what he does for opponents and expects his team to impose their will on the match. No matter which way the Rowdies go ,either 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, the key for the home team is to maintain shape and possession. Atlanta do not seem to have our offensive potential but what they did correctly in that draw against the Strikers was hold their shape. They closed down the space and didn’t allow any Strikers into dangerous channels and kept a clean sheet against a very potent attack.

Overall, I believe these are two very evenly matched teams that like to play attractive attacking soccer. It will come down to which team executes their game plan best. That being said, I predict a Rowdies win with the crowd giving them the advantage.


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