The Tampa Bay Rowdies claimed their second league victory of the 2023 USL Championship season on Saturday evening with a 1-0 victory against Detroit City FC, breaking a three-game losing streak in all competitions before the crowd at Keyworth Stadium.
Here are three things we took away from the contest.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies were in major need of a win, and a boost in the final third, as they arrived at Keyworth Stadium. Thanks to Charlie Dennis, it got a stellar individual display that served as the centerpiece for one of the best attacking performances the side has produced this season. Tampa Bay recorded its most shots in a game this season (17) and the highest xG mark in a game (2.47xG) as it took a deserved victory.
Dennis provided the only goal of the game with his coolly taken penalty kick with 11 minutes remaining, but he easily could have found his name on the scoresheet prior if not for a spectacular second-half save by Detroit’s Nathan Steinwascher. In the absence of Lewis Hilton for the visitors, he also delivered seven key passes to set up chances for teammates in open play and off set pieces as part of a strong all-around display. There’s still work for the Rowdies to do on their finishing, but Dennis made sure they came away with the result they needed here.
Tampa Bay Rowdies defender Forrest Lasso was in the middle of the action on Saturday evening, winning 12 of 14 duels overall, to help his side post a shutout. | Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC
At the start of this season, three-time USL Championship Defender of the Year Forrest Lasso did not look quite himself. There were uncharacteristic errors, including conceding two key penalty kicks to opponents, and even a spell on the bench as Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins tried to figure out his side’s best defensive look.
In a rugged environment at Keyworth, though, Lasso looked very much like the player we’ve known in the past. He won almost every battle on the ground and in the air with Detroit’s forward line – 5 of 5 ground duels, 7 of 9 aerial duels, 2 of 2 tackles – while helping the visitors look airtight in the defensive third. If this is close to what we can expect moving forward, then the Rowdies should get back to the defensive force they’ve been in prior seasons.
If there was anyone that didn’t deserve to lose on Detroit City FC’s side, it was goalkeeper Nathan Steinwascher. Once again, the local legend proved worthy of the tag with outstanding saves in either half to keep the game scoreless. The 30-year-old has continued to be among the best in the league at his position this campaign and has yet to give up more than one goal in a Championship game.
The problem for Le Rouge, of course, is that’s typically been enough to sink them. Detroit’s scoreless streak in the Championship is now at 552 minutes – its last league goal came in the 78th minute of its lone win of the season against El Paso Locomotive FC on March 18, since when it has been held scoreless in six consecutive games. Richie Ballard came close to providing a late stunner with a shot off the crossbar in stoppage time for the hosts, but there just wasn’t enough on show in the final third overall for Detroit to take something from the game again.