Tampa Bay Rowdies in critical stretch of NASL games with Freddy Adu back on form

KartikReport_TB (1)The Tampa Bay Rowdies sit tied with FC Edmonton for the final spot in the NASL Championship entering this Saturday’s contest in Blaine, Minnesota against high-flying and MLS-bound Minnesota United FC. The in-state rival Fort Lauderdale Strikers sit just three points behind the Rowdies and the Eddies with a game in hand. The Rowdies will be without Darwin Espinal who has joined the Honduras U-23 team for CONCACAF’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

In Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Indy Eleven in St Petersburg, the Rowdies counted on an excellent performances from Freddy Adu and Long Tan original (this version) of Rowdies who rejoined the team on loan last week from Arizona of the third division USL. Freddy Adu’s return to health and finding of form on the attacking end of the pitch is a welcome addition to a Rowdies side that has been out of sorts since the second week of July. Unfortunately, the Rowdies have not been able to find consistency in the final third over the course of the last two and a half months despite have a plethora of attacking options.

Tomorrow’s game in Minnesota will be very difficult for the Rowdies. The Loons have played well of late and Christian Ramirez has again found his goal scoring form. After tomorrow night, the Rowdies have four matches remaining in the NASL Regular Season.

We will have full post-game coverage on the TKR pod Saturday night at 11pm.

5 comments

  1. Questions for Kartik:

    You’ve stated repeatedly that while you think it is foolish of NASL to want to compete with MLS they should be given co-D1 status or as you put it in an article on World Soccer Talk “labels should be blown off the divisions.” So I ask.

    a. How is the USSF holding NASL back in the current structure? If NASL has the best business model, then go for it and become great. Nobody is stopping them from competing in the market. The D1 v D2 labels don’t matter. You yourself said this repeatedly before late August. I quote you “the division labels are semantics without promotion and relegation.”
    b. If NASL believes that promotion and relegation is the way to go, why aren’t they currently implementing it or making a plan to implement it? They do not have to have MLS to make this happen.
    c. Why should USSF treat MLS and NASL equally when they have a working relationship with one while the other is trying to ruin that relationship and wedge its way in? You yourself have stated that “NASL’s fans are dividing our once united soccer community.” If you really believe this, how can you not see the point of view from the USSF?
    d. Why should the USSF treat MLS and NASL equally if they believe that the MLS model is the best for the sustainable growth of the game in this country, and the NASL model is not sustainable and jeopardizes the progress that has been made? Don’t we have a governing body to prevent failures?

    Thanks for the answers in advance. I just want to see where you are coming from. Your opinion matters a great deal to people who follow NASL and soccer in Florida, but with that comes a responsibility to be consistent and thorough. I do not believe you have been as thorough and consistent as in the past on this matter in your desire to control the news cycle and be the guy giving hot takes and breaking news.

    1. Twitter is my own enemy. People digging up tweets all the time and taking them out of context. Half are hot takes meant to be humorous. But I do appreciate these questions. Let me respond.

      A- Yes I agree with my previous statement and agree with your premise. But what I have more recently stated is that NASL itself claims being labeled a D2 league has prevented them from getting sponsorship and new owners. Perhaps this is an excuse for not selling expansion franchises at a quick rate, going into larger rather than smaller markets (Markets where they have either failed before or will compete with MLS or in the case of Miami/Fort Lauderdale my home market compete with MLS AND another NASL team). I do believe however still that the labels on divisions are semantics which is why I don’t believe that we need them unless we are going to do PRO/REL.
      B- I believe many NASL owners oppose PRO/REL if they are at the top of the food chain. They only support it if it gets them into MLS without paying $100m. Otherwise it would be fairly straight forward to implement a PRO/REL structure within five years with NPSL.
      C- USSF is supposed to be even-handed. A fair arbiter and administrator of the game. Right now they are not.
      D- IT is not for the USSF to determine who has a better business model. It is the job of the Federation to govern the game. The leagues can battle one another in terms of business models. NASL and MLS are doing so right now. This governing body has allowed about 4/5 (80%) of lower division teams who did not go to MLS or move down a division arbitrarily in the period between 1996 and 2010 to go out of business. This is a truly unacceptable fail rate and one which the USSF tolerated for years until coming up with the new new D2 standards in 2010. I hardly think they have ever cared if teams go under. It was only in 2010 while bidding on the World Cup that they suddenly got embarrassed by the number of lower division and women’s league team collapses (Specifically the midseason collapse of the St Louis team Hope Solo, Lindsey Tarpley and Shannon Boxx played for) and began doing the duty they long should have been obligated to perform.

  2. Soccer Fan · · Reply

    Interesting thoughts and I agree. Forget about suing the USSF, if the NASL wants to be considered a Division 1 league, the owners need to put their money up and build real stadiums and sign better players. Nothing is preventing them from doing this, other than their own lack of resources. Division 2 status from USSF is a label, not a ceiling.

    1. I agree and am not sure if the lack of a D1 label holding back sponsorship’s and revenue as claimed by Jeffery Kessler, the NASL’s lawyer is real or simply a diversionary tactic to protect owners and clubs who have not invested in their clubs the way you would expect them to given the rhetoric we often hear from NASL owners.

  3. Reality Check · · Reply

    I’m not sure how having two D1 leagues would benefit US soccer as a whole. Blame USSF/MLS collusion all you want, but NASL franchises are by and large in second tier markets, most of them have little history or fan following, they have barely any stadium infrastructure to speak of. They’re adding new teams, sure, but they’re going to lose Minnesota and likely the league-owned Atlanta franchise, and it sounds like the Edmonton team is close to folding as well. The D1 rules may seem somewhat arbitrary, but honestly the only way NASL qualifies is if you drop standards all together. Why not have a second D1 league with 10 or so teams in small (mostly regional) markets with well less than 5k in average attendance playing on turf in rented stadiums? Sounds like a recipe for success on and off the field right there!

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