When: 7:30pm, Saturday May 21st 2022
Where: Glorious Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, FL
Watch: ESPN+
Last Meeting: L 2-0 on 10/10/21 at Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh PA

Tampa BayTulsa
Neill CollinsHead CoachBob Lilley
4-3-4, 16 pointsRecord7-2-1, 22 points
W 5-1
at Phoenix Rising FC
Last MatchW 1-0
vs. El Paso Locomotive FC
Team Leaders
5: LaCava
2: Dalgaard, Hilton, Harris
Goals6: Kelly
3: Fernandes
2: LaCava/Guenzatti
1: Tejada/Hilton/Ekra
Assists4: Dixon/Forbes
20 : GuenzattiShots15: Kelly
12: CochranSaves11: Silva
3: CochranClean Sheets3: Silva
O: Castellanos
Q: Areman/Antley/Harris
YC Warning: Wyke, AntleyDisciplinen/a

Nearly four years to the date of his first match in charge of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Neill Collins will once again meet the same team he coached against that night when Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC comes to Al Lang Stadium this Saturday. The Rowdies needed a second-half goal from Joe Cole to come away with a point against Pittsburgh in Collins’ first match. Every matchup with Pittsburgh has been just as hard-fought, with the Rowdies posting two wins, two losses, and three draws.

“When you’re playing Pittsburgh, you really know it’s going to be a tough game. I’d like to think people have felt that over the last three or four years, but I think Bob’s teams were part of the inspiration I got when I thought how can we compete with these teams and that’s what we’re still aiming to do. That’s why Saturday’s going to a tough game. You’ve got a top team that can well on both sides of the game.”

Tampa Bay Rowdies head coach Neill Collins

With Pittsburgh in town on the anniversary of his first match as head coach in 2018, Collins reflected on the progress the Rowdies have made and the work still to be done.

If I’m being honest, when I took this job, my aim was to keep this job. My short term aim was to just keep the job, to show that I could make the team better. I think that was the big thing. Can I make the team better on the field and can I make the club better as a whole? That’s still the aim and I’m glad I’ve had four years to keep progressing. While I’ve been here I’ve constantly strove to do that. It’s great that we’ve had some success in those four years, but I’m still as committed as ever to try and bring more success. There’s a lot of things on the horizon for this club that I think are going to be exciting that I’m glad to be part of. The four years have flown by in the best possible sense.”

Tampa Bay Rowdies head coach Neill Collins

LaCava fitting right in: Jake LaCava‘s transition in to the Rowdies has been a seamless one. After Sunday’s tally to kick off the scoring explosion in Phoenix, the young attacker now leads the club with five goals on the season. While the supporters and everyone watching can see his impact on the field, Collins notes that LaCava is as equally meaningful to the Rowdies in every facet.

“The best compliment I can give Jake is he’s a Rowdies player, and by that I mean he exhibits all the traits I’d expect a Rowdies player to. He works hard, he’s coach-able, he’s honest, he’s a good teammate, and most of all he’s a good player. I think Jake over the past month has lifted his game again and I actually think once a couple of our top players find their top form, it’s going to be really exciting to watch. We’ve had moments and Sunday night was another step in the right direction but once we really get it going he’s going to go from strength to strength. We’re delighted to have him and he’s done a fantastic job.”

Tampa Bay Rowdies head coach Neill Collins

Slow and Steady Progress: The Rowdies are coming off their best result of the season after routing Phoenix 5-1 on the road. It came at a much needed time after the Rowdies dropped of four matches in a congested April. The much needed victory gives the Rowdies a confidence boost heading into the grueling days of summer, although Collins and his staff are aware there’s still a long road ahead to building this Rowdies squad into a championship contender.

“I think what the result against Phoenix did was show us what we’re capable of and what I thought we were capable of, but there’s still a couple things we need to iron out. We’ve still got a couple of important guys nursing injuries and a couple things in the squad we need to sort out but, although the results have not always shown it, I do believe we’re on the right track to where we can hopefully consistently do what we did in Phoenix.”

Tampa Bay Rowdies head coach Neill Collins

Fernandes the Creator: The moment everyone was talking about after the Phoenix may not have been any of the goals but the pass from Leo Fernandes to set up the first goal. Fernandes threaded a heeled pass through the leg of a defender to set LaCava up beautifully. The assist was Fernandes’ club-leading third of the year and his 24th overall, which is the second most in the Rowdies modern era.

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