For Head Coach Ricky Hill, these next four matches are must-win if they want to defend last year's NASL Soccer Bowl Championship. Despite the seven-point gap with the league leading New York Cosmos, Hill reiterated that if the Rowdies come away with the remaining 12 points, they will have a shot at being in the Soccer Bowl.
“Mathematically we are still in the hunt,” said Hill. “With three of the last four matches being played at Al Lang, I know the fans will back this team up and support us through the finish.”
After suffering a 4-3 defeat in New York, the 2012 NASL Coach of the Year believed that the match against the Strikers would be a great opportunity to get back into the race for the championship.
“Going into last Saturday’s match, I told the guys that we needed to win,” explained Hill. “It was the first time this year, with the exception of the first 18 minutes against the Scorpions, that we did not control most of the possession. I believe the second half was better in respect to how we created chances, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the loss.”
After back-to-back defeats, Hill knows that the chances of reaching the Soccer Bowl are slimmer and that the Rowdies are against the ropes.
“We’ve been down before and we have shown the audacity to never give up,” commented Hill. “This squad is strong and I have no doubt that on Saturday we will come out playing for the win. Our fans have been great all year long and with three home matches left, we want them to be able to celebrate three more wins.”
The 2-1 loss in Ft. Lauderdale means that the Coastal Cup will be decided in the final meeting this year between the Rowdies and the Strikers. Come Saturday, Tampa Bay can claim their fourth consecutive Coastal Cup with a win or a draw at Al Lang Stadium.
“It’s great to be a part of a rivalry that has such a rich history,” mentioned the former England international. “A win against our rivals on Saturday will keep us in the hunt for another championship, which is what we are all striving for. We expect a great crowd who will support us the full 90 minutes, and I know our players feed off of the energy that they create.”
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|New York Cosmos||14||9||4||1||10||31|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
|San Antonio Scorpions||12||6||2||4||4||20|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|