Cosmos, Rowdies Meet In Key Match In The Championship Race

New York can possibly claim the No. 1 seed, while Tampa Bay is fighting for the final postseason spot
Tampa Bay Rowdies Staff | Oct 30, 2015

The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ situation is clear — if they beat the New York Cosmos, they will secure the fourth and final berth in The Championship, the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament. Results last weekend, when the Rowdies beat Carolina and Fort Lauderdale lost to Indy, have given Tampa Bay control of its postseason destiny in the final week of the regular season. The Rowdies (39 points) currently lead the Strikers (38 points) by one point in the Combined Standings, but need to match or better Fort Lauderdale’s result from its regular-season finale in Jacksonville on Sunday. The Strikers have a commanding lead in goal differential, the first tiebreaker. The Rowdies currently have a goal differential of -2, while Fort Lauderdale is +8.

The Cosmos are still alive in the race to get the No. 1 seed in The Championship, though their fate may be determined before kickoff. If Ottawa Fury FC wins or draws in Atlanta in a match that kicks off at 4 p.m., New York will be locked in as the No. 2 seed. If Ottawa loses and the Cosmos win, New York will be the No. 1 seed.

The Rowdies arrive in New York on a three-match unbeaten streak and in position to clinch a postseason berth with a win. Last week, a 12th-minute goal by Richard Menjivar put the Rowdies in position to beat Carolina, and Tampa Bay’s defensive unit held strong to help Matt Pickens record his seventh clean sheet in 21 starts this year. Both Menjivar and Pickens earned a spot in the NASL Team of the Week, while Menjivar was named Player of the Week.

Leading-scorer Maicon Santos played 30 minutes as a second-half substitute against Carolina, marking his first appearance since injuring his foot against the Cosmos on September 5. He leads the Rowdies with seven goals in just 13 starts.

Defender Tamika Mkandawire is one of four NASL players that has played every minute of the season so far, tallying 2,610 minutes in 2015. The other three players all play for Ottawa.

The Cosmos had a rough stretch of form earlier in the Fall Season, going winless in a four-game stretch between September 9 and October 4, but have kicked it back into top gear and won their last three matches, by scores of 3-0, 3-0, and 2-1 over Atlanta, FC Edmonton, and San Antonio, respectively.

Leo Fernandes leads the Cosmos in goals this season with eight, just ahead of Raul’s seven. Fernandes’ last goal came October 7 in a 3-0 win over Atlanta.

Cosmos stars Raul and Marcos Senna officially confirmed this week that they will retire at the end of the season, meaning Saturday’s match against the Rowdies will be the final regular-season match of their storied careers.

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