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PREVIEW: Rowdies vs. Charlotte Independence

WHEN: Saturday, May 1st 2021 at 7:30pm ET
WHERE: Al Lang Stadium, St Petersburg FL}
WATCH: ESPN+

After a heart-breaking end to the previous season, when an outbreak of COVID-19 in the squad forced the cancellation of the USL Cup Final, which would have been played at Al Lang Stadium vs. Western Conference Champions Phoenix Rising FC, the Tampa Bay Rowdies will kick off their 2021 campaign at home for the first time since their USL debut season in 2017. The Rowdies will face the Charlotte Independence, in the first of four matches against the Atlantic Division rival.

2020 Season:

Charlotte: 8-4-4, 28 points, Group G winner, 6th place in Eastern Conference.
Playoffs: Eliminated 2-1 AET by Charleston in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Tampa Bay: 10-3-3, 33 points, Group H winner, 4th place in Eastern Conference
Playoffs: Eastern Conference Champion

Head Coaches:

Charlotte: Mike Jeffries (6th Season)

Tampa Bay: Neill Collins (4th season)

Officials:

Center Referee: Tori Penso
Assistant Referees: Brooke Mayo, Meghan Mullen
Fourth Official: Alyssa Nichols

Offseason Moves:

Charlotte: Distel Zola, Christian Dean, Irvin Parra, Noah Paravicini, Thomas de Villardi, Kevin Riascos, Brandt Bronico (Loan – Charlotte FC), Marcelo Palomino (Loan – Houston Dynamo)

Tampa Bay: Steevan Dos Santos, Conner Antley, Luiz Fernando, Dayonn Harris, Matthew Srbely, Laurence Wyke, Raiko Arozarena, Jordan Adebayo-Smith

Possible Rowdies Lineup:

The Rowdies will want to get a strong start to the season, and I think this means Neill Collins will pick a starting lineup that trends towards experience. Steevan Dos Santos may be a new face to the club, but has several years with several clubs at the USL level under his belt. Expect to see new faces introduced as the match progresses. Conner Antley, Jordan Adebayo-Smith and either Matthew Srbely or Laurence Wyke seem likely candidates for me.

Prediction:

Rowdies win. 3-nil.

Matthew Cox
Co-Founder/Co-Host/Editor in Chief of The Unused Substitutes. DTSP in the streets, SRQ in the sheets. Take my football ⚽, my 🍺 craft, my 🌯 wet and my takes πŸ”₯. πŸ’š&πŸ’› til I'm ☠&πŸ₯Ά

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