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How the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ pressure set up a romp past Florida rival Miami FC

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/11/24, 9:28PM EDT


Fast start set up opportunities as hosts’ inexperience showed, while Blake Bodily produced sterling all-around display

The Tampa Bay Rowdies powered to a second win of the season on Thursday night as a brace by Cal Jennings and finishes by Manuel Arteaga and Blake Bodily resulted in a 5-2 victory against Miami FC at the FIU Soccer Stadium to keep the visitors undefeated so far this season.

Here are three things we took away from the action.


Making the trip south, the Tampa Bay Rowdies grabbed the game from the opening minutes and the combination of their organized and instinctive pressure and Miami’s inexperience and poor decision-making resulted in a contest that overall proved one-sided even with the hosts’ positive moments in attack.

Tampa Bay has used its willingness to push numbers forward to win possession back quickly to positive effect at times this season and it turned possession over in Miami’s half regularly. The opening goal came from such an instance as Rowdies forward Manuel Arteaga seized on a moment of hesitancy from Miami’s Andrew Booth to steal possession and quickly set a move in motion that saw Eddie Munjumo’s cross turned home for an own goal.

Other chances came about in the same manner – Cal Jennings and Perez both hit the woodwork as they seized on slack moments from the hosts – but what came through most the different speeds of thought both sides were playing at. The work by Jordan Doherty to win possession, receive a return pass from Jordan Farr and then move upfield and switch play to Blake Bodily to set up Jennings’ first of the game, or Jennings leaving Miami’s Gabriel Cabral for dead in midfield to start the move that set up Bodily’s finish in first-half stoppage time were indicative of two teams playing the first half at different speeds.


In concert with their pressure in the opponents’ half, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have played a very high defensive line at times this season. It has been a cause of some of the side’s defensive issues and was almost punished by Miami before the visitors took a comfortable lead late in the first half.

Frank Lopez had a golden opportunity for Miami’s first real chance of the game in the 31st minute when Rocco Genzano swept a good ball in behind the back line for the Cuban forward to break onto only for Jordan Farr to step up and make an outstanding save. The Rowdies also were put under pressure five minutes later when Andrew Booth got in behind the back line and delivered a cross that set up Lopez for another chance that was well saved by Farr to keep his side ahead before Jennings gave them some breathing space.

The Rowdies seem set on toeing a higher wire than they might have previously and given the plusses it provides in the attacking half there’s good justification for that. Against a better opponent, however, a slightly more conservative stance might be in order.


The arrival of Blake Bodily this offseason added another good attacking weapon to the Rowdies squad and his performance on Thursday night was indicative of what the 26-year-old can produce when he’s on top of his game. His beautifully taken finish which followed a precise cross that set up Cal Jennings’ first goal of the night set the Rowdies up for all three points just before halftime and proved the highlights of a strong two-way display.

Bodily’s attacking action was impressive – his crisp interplay with Josh Perez and Aaron Guillen on the left side helped put the Rowdies in good positions, just as Eddie Munjoma did as both Lewis Hilton and Danny Crisostomo looked to feed him opportunities to run at the defense – but he was also solid in his defensive work. Bodily also put in good work on the defensive side as well, however, winning a team-high seven duels out of seven as the Rowdies kept the pressure on their hosts. For the style the Rowdies played in the past, it felt like Bodily would be an ideal fit. So far, that’s proving the case.

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