Match Preview: Cosmos travel to Tampa Bay, look to end road woes

13833371_10154475679466091_241228601_oTo say the Cosmos have not looked like a road team is a gross understatement. Their performance on the road has given them just six points out of a possible 21 so far. All six have come in Miami. Aside from those two wins, the Cosmos have dropped every other league road match, five in all. They will attempt to find a reversal to those fortunes at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.

Since their last match against the Cosmos, the Rowdies have dropped only one of their six games, going 3-2-1 with ten goals scored and seven permitted. After suffering their worst loss of the season, a 4-1 loss in Carolina, they bounced back with their biggest win since July 2015, a 3-0 shutout of Puerto Rico. The game featured an impressive bicycle goal kick inside a pocket of defenders from Joe Cole.

With Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell flipping between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations and injuries still leaving questions on the back line, the one stable position at the back should be goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Pickens has been the picture of stability, posting 5 shutouts and a 1.08 GAA in his 13 games.

Despite not being first choices, Stefan Antonijevic and Justin Chavez have performed reasonably well at center back, and it’s possible Tamika Mkandawire may return for this match. Darnell King and Walter Ramirez have also done well on the right and left sides.

Plenty of threats lie in the midfield. Cole, who had previously started back in a holding mid role, has moved further up. Plenty more weapons lie there for the Rowdies. Kalif Alhassan, Junior Burgos, and Eric Avila, who scored a goal of his own last week. Juan Guerra is a standout at the holding mid and was partnered up with Keith Savage last week, who just returned from injury. And, of course, there’s Freddy Adu, who recently started seeing minutes again.

Up front, the clear choice is Georgi Hristov, who leads the team with five goals and an assist. Tom Heinemann has not had the steady performance we saw for much of 2015, but has contributed three goals, one of them coming last weekend.

The Cosmos have their own history issues to get over too, with only one win in four chances (1-1-2) and a -1 goal differential (4 GF, 5 GA) at Al Lang. A win here would go a long way towards helping them overcome road woes, especially with another one in Edmonton coming up just after this.

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