Riverhounds (7-2-1) at Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-3-4)
Date: Saturday, May 21
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Odds: Hounds +260 / Draw +260 / Tampa Bay -120 (FanDuel)
TV: 22 The Point
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtag: #TBRvPIT
(May 21, 2022) — Two teams that are used to being near the top of the Eastern Conference come together for the first time this season when the Hounds head to St. Petersburg, Fla. to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Fitting for two teams that have experienced similar levels of success under their respective fifth-year coaches, Bob Lilley and Neill Collins, the all-time series between the clubs sees the Hounds hold the slightest of edges at 4-3-4. And with one of those wins being the teams’ 2015 Cup match that went the Hounds way, the record is dead even in league meetings since the Rowdies joined the USL.
The Hounds are coming off back-to-back clean sheets, but both of those were at home, where the Hounds’ defense has been much more stingy. Seven of the eight goals allowed by the Hounds in league play have come on the road, and they will need to tighten up against a Tampa team with a diverse set of threats.
The Rowdies seemed to be slumping with a draw and consecutive losses to Memphis and San Diego, but they snapped out of it in a big way Sunday with a 5-1 win at Phoenix. Last season’s top scorer, Sebastián Guenzatti, has just one goal this season but remains a constant threat up top. Instead, it’s Jake LaCava, acquired from New York Red Bulls II before the season, who leads the Rowdies with five goals after getting another in the win at Phoenix.
The Hounds, meanwhile, are trying to regain a more consistent scoring touch. Excluding the team’s four-goal outburst in a rout of Atlanta, the Hounds have just two goals in their other five matches in all competitions since April 16. That has been a focal point for Lilley leading into the match, and he even spoke after last Saturday’s 1-0 win over El Paso about the team being wasteful in attack.
Dane Kelly still leads the Hounds — and is tied for the Championship lead — with six goals, but he hasn’t found the net since that April 23 win over Atlanta. Russell Cicerone has shown signs of heating up with two goals in his last four games, but he also let multiple chances slip away that could have turned the El Paso win into a much easier night.
The Hounds are betting underdogs in the match for just the third time this USL season (won at Memphis, lost at Louisville). With the Hounds at 2-2-1 on the road in the league and the Rowdies at 2-2-1 at Al Lang Stadium, perhaps the only sure thing in this matchup is that it will be unpredictable. The game will be televised on 22 The Point and streamed via ESPN+.