Who: Toronto FC II (1-0-0) at Tampa Bay Rowdies (1-0-0)
Where: Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida
When: Saturday, April 1, 2017. 7:30 PM.
Toronto FC II will look to make it two wins in a row to start the season when they travel to Tampa to take on the Rowdies. The team will look to build off the momentum picked up following their 1-0 victory over Phoenix Rising FC.
The Rowdies head into the match on a high, after defeating their inter-state rivals Orlando City B 1-0 last weekend. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. Tampa Bay is in its first season in the USL following a long and successful tenure in the NASL.
For the second consecutive match, TFC II will be up against a veteran club, with its sights set on MLS expansion. The Rowdies’ lineup features a strong mix of players with both international and top-flight domestic experience.
“The mentality has to be right,” said head coach Jason Bent when asked what needs to be done to get a result on Saturday, “we have to continue to use our strengths from the last game. “
One of those strengths was the play of the back three. Brandon Aubrey, Lars Eckenrode, and Oyvind Alseth all made their professional debut last weekend and all three were very impressive in shutting down a potent Phoenix attack. “I really like playing in the [three back] system,” added Aubrey, “ I enjoy playing in the centre of the three, it allows me to sit back and read the game.”
Toronto FC II will likely run out a very different looking lineup compared to the one that walked away from Arizona with all three points. First team loanees Marky Delgado, Tsubasa Endoh, Raheem Edwards and Jay Chapman are unlikely to make the trip down south with the first team in action on Friday.
However, head coach Jason Bent confirmed that veteran defender Jason Hernandez and homegrown signing Sergio Camargo will make the trip to Florida. Bent should also have Liam Fraser, Aiden Daniels, Luca Uccello, and Shaan Hundal all available for selection after their return from the Viareggio Tournament.
Captain Mitch Taintor will be unavailable for selection as he serves the final game of his suspension. Expect the captain to make his season debut in the midweek game vs. Orlando City.
Players to watch:
Marcel Schafer: The 32-year-old is in his first season with the Rowdies. The German wingback is a veteran of over 200 Bundesliga matches. The former VfL Wollfsburg player made eight appearances for the German national team between 2008-2010. Schafer lined up in a more central defensive midfielder role in the season opener.
Joe Cole: The three-time Premier League champion is in his second season with the Rowdies. The former English international made stops at West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Aston Villa before making the move state side. Cole scored 62 goals across his 18-year EPL career. The London native scored nine goals in 24 appearances for Tampa last season