The Tampa Bay Rowdies got their 2021 preseason off on the right foot with a 2-1 victory over South Georgia Tormenta of USL League One. The reigning Eastern Conference Champions took the lead in the 30th minute when one of the newest members of the club, Jordan Adebayo-Smith, relieved a Tormenta midfielder of the ball and then connected with one of the Rowdies most veteran players, captain Seba Guenzatti, who avoided a defender and buried a shot in the Mob End.
Not content with just the assist, Adebayo-Smith continued his contribution just moments later, finishing a cross with his first touch to give the Green and Gold a 2-0 lead in the 34th minute. Tormenta pulled one back 4 minutes later after some miscommunication between the Rowdies led to South Georgia’s Marco Micaletto scoring in the Mahaffey End.
Both clubs made widespread changes for the second half, but the final 45 minutes ended scoreless. Adebayo-Smith, who foreshadowed his involvement early on with a shot that went off the post in the 19th minute, was not the only player making his debut for the club, as defender Conner Antley (a former Tormenta player and the 2019 USL League One Defender of the Year) and an unnamed trialist also got starts. Besides that trio, head coach Neill Collins rolled out a veteran-laden lineup, indicative of the many returning players from last year’s trophy-lifting side.
The second half saw the Rowdies replace 8 players, with Evan Louro, Max Lachowecki and Antley remaining on from the starting group, and the rest replaced with another group comprised mostly of veterans but with newcomers Dayonn Harris & Matthew Srbely making their first appearance for the club. A second trialist rounded out the lineup.
As the second half progressed, both clubs made changes, with Tormenta rolling out 8 new players in the 62nd minute, and two academy players came on for the Rowdies in the 67th.
The only rostered players not to see any playing time were Leo Fernandes, Steeven Dos Santos, Luiz Fernando & Ian McGrane. While it’s not always easy to glean useful insights from a preseason game, let alone the first one of the year vs. a side from a lower division, it’s hard not to call tonight a success – no one was injured, almost everyone got minutes, and since the score was being kept, the Rowdies came out on top in that department as well. The newcomers got a chance to show what they bring to the team, the veterans got a chance to knock some of the rust off, and the team got to play against someone in a different uniform.
The Rowdies’ preseason slate continues next weekend with a matchup against an opponent from a higher level as Inter Miami from MLS visits Al Lang.
Photo Credit: Ysanne Taylor