Five things to look forward to in the Saturday night game between the Rowdies and Ottawa FC.
1. Unbeaten, untied. The Rowdies seek to complete a successful homestand with a win over the Ottawa Furies. Tampa Bay had won 1-0 and 4-0 in two weeks and has looked solid on both ends of the pitch. For a team to get nine points out of its first home stand would be impressive.
2. Old friends: Ottawa is one of the few teams in the USL that is familiar to Tampa Bay, also coming from the NASL. Last year, the Fury had a loss and a tie at Al Lang Field, so the Rowdies will attempt to continue their hold over Ottawa, which is 0-1 on the season after losing last week with an own-goal.
3. Clean sheets: The Rowdies’ defense has been superb in two games so far, and pitched a shutout (a clean sheet) in both. Tampa Bay goaltender Akira Fitzgerald has been solid, but he really hasn’t had a lot of work because of the defense in front of him. Fitzgerald has only two saves in two games.
4. Passing crispness: Through two games, the Rowdies have completed 967 passes. That’s second in the USL to the Portland Timbers 2, who have 1,132, but the Timbers have played one more game. If the Rowdies can continue to distribute the ball, they should be able to get past the Fury.
5. Third time’s a charm: Rowdies’ forward Georgi Hristov has scored in each of the first two games for the Rowdies. Despite missing several chances in their opener, the Rowdies are second in the USL with five goals. Also look for Michael Nanchoff, who had two assists and earned Man of the Match honors.