skip navigation

3 Takeaways from the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ comeback vs. Rhode Island

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/30/24, 10:19PM EDT


Manuel Arteaga’s hustle, physicality set tone for comeback, direct play proved crucial in helter-skelter contest

The Tampa Bay Rowdies claimed their first win of the 2024 USL Championship season as they rallied for a 4-1 victory against Rhode Island FC before a crowd of 6,001 fans at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.

Here are three things we took away from the contest. 


The Rowdies were not close to their sharpest on Saturday night. The number of sloppy turnovers and missed touches the hosts had, particularly in their own half, was shocking at times and gave Rhode Island momentum. Where the Rowdies turned the game around, though, was in their work-rate, starting in the 32nd minute when Manuel Arteaga almost delivered an equalizer through his sheer hustle.

The Venezuelan forward was incredibly unlucky to see his looping finish over RIFC goalkeeper Jackson Lee hit the crossbar, but it set the tone for what was to come. Tampa Bay stayed aggressive, started forcing poor touches and passes by their visitors, and ended up capitalizing. That another heads-up play by Arteaga delivered the equalizer off a recycled but still odd play in 55th minute was appropriate, and the Rowdies’ eventual 13-2 shot advantage in the second half drove home a result the hosts’ effort more than anything delivered.


With both teams playing high defensive lines at time, while there was a desire to create sharp passing movements for both teams the rewards from direct play were hard to ignore. Rhode Island capitalized on a misjudgment by the Rowdies as Albert Dikwa stole in on a goal kick by Jackson Lee – who picked up the first goalkeeper assist in RIFC history – to get between Tampa Bay’s Forrest Lasso and Jordan Farr and finish into an open net to open the scoring, part of a strong opening by the visitors.

In the second half, however, the Rowdies turned the tables and capitalized after the pressure their direct play caused crucial mistakes in Rhode Island’s back line. A missed opportunity to clear on a quick clearance by Jordan Farr led Cal Jennings in and he lashed home what proved to be the game-winner with aplomb. The hosts then iced the game in second half stoppage time after a misplaced header by RIFC was reacted to first by Damián Rivera, giving him the chance to open his Rowdies account. These weren’t the carefully crafted chances Tampa Bay would like to see, but they count all the same.


Rhode Island FC has looked like a solid proposition in its first two games of club history, but Tampa Bay’s momentum seemed to overwhelm the visitors on Saturday night after a very promising start that included not only Dikwa’s finish but other opportunities for Noah Fuson and Conor McGlynn that had the visitors on top.

RIFC held its own physically over the 90 minutes – some of the physicality that arrived late on in the game will likely be remembered when these teams meet again later this season – but aside from a late push to get into the game after it was two goals down the side wasn’t able to find the level of attacking penetration it produced early, and previously against New Mexico United and Monterey Bay. Returning home next weekend will be welcome, but the tasks don’t get any easier as the Charleston Battery visit.

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos