TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – While the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning wait and hope for an on-ice conclusion to their season and MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays hope to salvage any type of season they can, the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship anxiously await a return to the momentum they created in just one match before the league and much of the sporting world shut down due to Coronavirus.
News Channel 8’s Dan Lucas spoke with Rowdies head coach Neill Collins on Wednesday, getting the status of the team that has not played since March 7th.
As you can imagine, the mystery of how the team will perform once play resumes hangs over all clubs but especially the Rowdies, who began the season with an impressive 1-0 win over New York Red Bulls II and was just days away from its second away match to begin the season.
The stoppage is extra frustrating for Collins because, unlike the Rays who did not play an opening day game, the Rowdies caught a glimpse of what could be another hot start to a season. The opening day victory was the Rowdies first win as a franchise in New York, in nearly a decade.
For now, the USL will follow guidelines and is slated to return to match play on May 10. The date and situation are fluid however and any plan to resume a season as normal, or play a condensed schedule has not been announced.
For the Rowdies, fitness is not expected to be an issue, nor focus. The team has kept up with players throughout the suspended season and is ready to get on the field.
Collins feels it may take up to three weeks for clubs to be ready to play games again. The decision to resume soccer, with or without fans in attendance, will be critical in how the Rowdies can operate.