Player Ratings: Tampa Bay Rowdies 0-3 Birmingham Legion
A huge team effort
At last the Legion won a playoff game on the pitch, and what a win it was. They completed a 3-game 6-0 season sweep of the Rowdies in what was clearly the most convincing upset win of the weekend. As such, good ratings all round.
GK: MATT VAN OEKEL – 7. Matt was forced into making zero saves in the 45 minutes or so he played. His passing was typical MVO at 53.8% accurate on 13 attempts, and he won 1 duel. Against Cal Jennings, no doubt, who came very close to a red card.
LB: MOSES MENSAH –7. Moses was effectively a third centerback, registering no attacking actions at all. Defensively, he won 3 of 5 duels, and made 2 tackles, 1 clearance and 2 interceptions. A solid 79.5% completion rate on 44 passes. A good evening all told.
CB: JAKE RUFE – 7. Starting in place of the still gimpy Phanuel Kavita, Jake put in a very good outing at center back. He won 2 of 4 duels and logged 4 clearances. 77.4% good on 31 passes. Overall, he wasn’t much challenged.
CB: ALEX CROGNALE – 8. Alex racked up 7 clearances and 3 interceptions, completely stymying any Tampa attack up the middle. He also won all 4 of his duels. Stepping up big on Phanny’s absence.
RB: COLLIN SMITH – 7. Collin wasn’t much more involved in attack than Moses, although Legion play did favor his side. He put in just one unsuccessful cross. He connected on 25 of 30 passes, won 3 of 5 duels and recorded 1 tackle, 1 clearance and 1 interception.
DM: ENZO MARTINEZ – 7.5. 9th minute yellow card? No problem. The foul on Jake LaCava was totally professional, of course, and seemed to completely faze the Rowdies attack. After that Enzo displayed yet more of his versatility at defensive mid, winning 8 of 10 duels and putting up 4 tackles and 2 clearances, all while creating 2 scoring chances.
LW: DIBA NWEGBO – 8. Diba managed to lose all 6 of his duels. On the other hand he connected on 21 of 24 passes and buried 1 of his 2 shots on goal. Although it weas probably the easiest goal he’s ever going to score.
LM: JUAN AGUDELO – 8. Juan was superb in his CAM role. Aside from assisting the first goal, he also had 2 shots (1 off target, 1 blocked) and created a total of 3 chances. He was 82.2% accurate on an impressive 45 passing tries, and also won 9 of a shopping 17 duels, which goes to show how deep in their own end Tampa were held all night.
RM: TYLER PASHER – 8. Tyler was a bit freer to roam in his play than Juan, almost a false 9. He created another 2 scoring chances and sent in 5 crosses, of which 2 connected. Unusually, he took no shots in his 84 minutes. Like Juan, he did some defensive work: 3 of 9 in duels, 1 tackle, 1 clearance and 2 interceptions.
RW: PROSPER KASIM – 8. When he’s good, he’s good. A goal, of course, to seal the deal. 2 other shots on target. 2 chances created. 2 of 4 in duels. 2 tackles, 3 interceptions. Excellent night.
FWD: PRESTON TABORT ETAKA – 9. Starting Preston, a winger, at forward instead of Neco was brilliant. A goal and an assist came out of that decision in just 68 minutes. He is credited with creating 1 scoring chance, but that seems just flat out wrong. He should have scored a couple of minutes earlier, but learned from his mistake pretty fast. Man of the Match beyond any doubt.
SUB: TREVOR SPANGENBERG – 8. Pressed into surprising early action, Trevor came up as big as he needed to, making 2 saves. And if he hadn’t made those saves, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Still, a good performance and we can expect him to start next weekend.
SUB: NECO BRETT – 8. Neco didn’t add to his already impressive USL scoring tally, but he did get the assist on Prosper’s goal. Generously sharing the wealth there. He connected on all 6 of his passes and had 1 shot on target.
SUB: GABRIEL ALVES – 7. Brought on for Tyler in the 84th minute as a bus driver, Gabriel completed 5 of 6 passes and won 1 duel. Otherwise more or less unchallenged.
SUB: MATTHEW CORCORAN – 7. Coming on with Gabriel in lieu of Diba as yet another bus driver, Matthew did so by creating a scoring chance. He also connected on all 8 passes and won 1 of 3 duels.
HC: TOMMY SOEHN – 8. Tommy used the same formation he had against Charleston but to much greater effect, and it wasn’t even slowed down by an early keeper change. The end result was the Legion’s widest margin of victory all season. Perfect game plan.