Sometimes, it’s just not working. You just don’t have it, your backs are against the wall, and you need someone to put the team on his back and take the game over. Luckily, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have a guy who fits that description quite nicely – captain Sebastian Guenzatti.

The circumstances weren’t *quite* that desperate on Saturday night, as the Rowdies launched their 2021 USL Championship campaign in front of a capacity-limited 1,870 fans at Al Lang Stadium, but “El Capitan” made sure the home side’s supporters, many making their first trip to Florida’s premier waterfront soccer stadium since the COVID-19 pandemic struck over a year ago, went home happy, leading his team to a 3-0 win over Atlantic Division opponent Charlotte Independence.

After a scoreless first half, Seba opened his account for this season by calmly converting a penalty, awarded after newcomer Laurence Wyke was fouled inside the area, sending Charlotte’s Brandon Miller the wrong way in the 58th minute. Almost 20 minutes later, Lewis Hilton lined up for a free kick following a foul on Zach Steinberger. The ball made its way to the head of defender Forrest Lasso, who put it in the path of an unmarked Guenzatti for the headed equivalent of a tap in.

Two minutes later and with a decent look at completing his hat trick, Guenzatti instead fed second-half substitute Leo Fernandes for his first of the season and the third of the night. The win propelled Tampa Bay to the top of the Atlantic Division standings ahead of next week’s visit from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Tampa Bay Rowdies on Twitter: “3-0 to the Green & Gold. Relive the magic with match highlights presented by @TechVacations. / Twitter”

3-0 to the Green & Gold. Relive the magic with match highlights presented by @TechVacations.

Man of the Match

You’re not seriously thinking it’s anyone other than Seba, are you?

Quick Kicks

Spotted a few familiar faces around Al Lang tonight – specifically former Rowdie Jochen Graf and I think we saw Tampa Bay Rays OF Randy Arozarena (whose brother Raiko was on the bench as Evan Louro‘s deputy) as well.

The berm terraces received rave reviews from everyone in the section – and from all the visitors as well!

Despite my “prediction” that head coach Neill Collins might select a vet-heavy lineup, several new faces started or made their debut for the Green and Gold tonight. Conner Antley, Steevan Dos Santos & Laurence Wyke all got starting nods, while Dayonn Harris, Matthew Srbely and Jordan Adebayo-Smith all came on in the 85th minute.

Guenzatti & Fernandes each got 1 match closer to the 100 appearance milestone. Seba’s tally is now at 91 & Leo got his 90th.

Injury Report:

Juan Tejada, Lucky Mkosana & Luiz Fernando were held out of tonight’s match with injuries. Seba Guenzatti appeared to have sustained a knock before being substituted but no further information was available.

Next Up

The Rowdies return to action next week as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds come to Al Lang to start their season.

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