Rowdies Replay: Retro to a Fault

The San Jose Earthquakes didn’t invent the retro soccer brand boomlet1Technically you can trace it to the Seattle Sounders’ brand re-emerging in late 1993 after a dormant decade., but when Major League Soccer’s San Jose team cast off its “Clash” moniker in 1999 and adopted the name of the area’s former North American Soccer League team, it probably changed the minds of some folks who had avoided old NASL brands like…a contagious disease of some sort.

Since then, we’ve seen the rebirth of NASL brands including the Vancouver Whitecaps (2001), Portland Timbers (2010), Fort Lauderdale Strikers (2011), New York Cosmos (2013), Tulsa Roughnecks (2015) and, of course, Tampa Bay Rowdies (20102Though they had to spend their first year as “FC Tampa Bay” while they worked to acquire the intellectual property.), and they’ve been varying degrees of successful3Three other NASL brands – the San Diego Sockers, Rochester Lancers and Edmonton Drillers – have been resurrected in the indoor game a time or two. where it was once thought those identities were toxic because the NASL folded after its 1984 season.

For those of us who were around for the original days (they were old, but they weren’t always good), getting to see the names and colors we grew up with is nice and nostalgic, but (for me at least), those aren’t really the Rowdies I grew up with. They can’t be, and that’s okay. That was a particular period of time and circumstances that can’t be re-created with similar colors. But replaying the Rowdies’ 1978 NASL season with the APBA Soccer game has been a fun way to reconnect with those times.

The Earthquakes, incidentally, were not one of the Rowdies’ more frequent opponents, with the two teams meeting just 16 times in the 10 seasons they were both in the NASL4Outdoors, at least. They did meet in the finals of the 1975 NASL Indoor Tournament, which marked the Rowdies’ debut.. They’ll meet twice in three games in the replay, with the second leg of the home-and-home5What the English call a “home and away”. coming in the sixth game, as part of a two-game California swing.

After three games, the replay Rowdies are just 1-2 (they were 3-0 at this point in real life), and as they host the Earthquakes at Tampa Stadium on April 22, 1978, they’re in desperate need of a win and some goals.

Rowdies Are Shot Down in Shootout

6This was the actual headline in the next day’s Tampa Tribune, though it finished with “4-3.”
Tampa, Fla. (April 22, 1978) – After slogging through 105 minutes and six rounds of a tiebreaker, the Tampa Bay Rowdies came away with nothing Saturday night at Tampa Stadium.

Not a win, not a goal, not a standings point.

By losing in the NASL’s controversial7Yes, it was controversial. If you read news stories of the time, as I did to prepare for this replay, you find it was quite often referred to by a variety of adjectives, with “controversial” the nicest of them. shootout, 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes, the Rowdies ran their streak of scoreless soccer to 274 minutes.

“We were pathetic, and it was that simple8Actual quote from Jago after the real-life game, but at least in that one his side scored three goals.,” said Rowdies Head Coach Gordon Jago, and the crowd of 17,860 agreed as they booed the team as it left the field.

The Rowdies mis-fired on their first 10 shots, and didn’t force San Jose goalkeeper Mike Hewitt to make a save until 74 minutes had elapsed. The Earthquakes weren’t much better, as they placed just three shots on goal in regulation and none in the 15-minute overtime session.

Rodney Marsh, still looking for his first goal of the season, had a chance to end the game just over a minute into overtime when he drilled a 25-yard shot toward the goal that Hewitt just dove to his right to save. Marsh missed a closer shot in the second overtime that resulted in a corner kick, but Hewitt saved David Robb‘s one-timer from just outside the box to squelch Tampa Bay’s final scoring chance of the night.

Second-half substitute and all-time leading NASL scorer Ilija Mitic started the shootout by dribbling in and shooting over Winston DuBose‘s9When the real-life game went to overtime, Jago replaced DuBose with Paul Hammond, but DuBose had allowed three soft goals in regulation. As he hadn’t given up anything in the replay, I left him in. shoulder, but DuBose reacted in time to deflect the shot wide.

Joey Fink then scored for the Rowdies with a nice move and flick past Hewitt. After Paul Child missed for San Jose and Robb hit the post for the Rowdies, Dave Davidovic curled an 18-yard shot around DuBose and in to level the shootout 1-1. Wes McLeod (who has the only two Rowdies goals this season) shot wide before San Jose’s Peter Ressel beat DuBose to the short side to give the Earthquakes a 2-1 edge.

Derek Smethurst, who has been recovering from a hamstring pull suffered in the season opener, then pulled off a clutch score, deking Hewitt to the ground and gently directing the ball into the net to make it 2-2.

After DuBose forced Dick Lukic into a wide shot on San Jose’s fifth shot, Marsh had the chance to win it. But Hewitt forced the Rowdies’ captain into an off-balance shot that didn’t find the net, setting up a sudden-death shootout round10Marsh missed what would have been the shootout-tying goal in the real game..

Ian Wood beat DuBose with a quick strike from 25 yards away, meaning Graham Paddon would have to score to keep Tampa Bay’s chances alive. Hewitt came out aggressively and took the ball off Paddon’s foot for the game-preserving save.

Jago admitted the loss was “hard to accept,” and said “I have learned something from it and the players must learn from it.

Jago isn’t the only one distressed by another poor performance by his team. Executives from the TVS network, which will televise next Sunday’s showdown with the Cosmos, know a punchless Tampa Bay team does not bode well for interest in its game of the week.

The visit by the defending NASL champions will also mark the return of Eddie Firmani to Tampa Stadium for the first time since he abruptly resigned as the Rowdies’ coach last summer, only to resurface weeks later in New York.

		1	2	OT1	OT2	SO	-	F
San Jose	0	0	0	0	1	-	1
Tampa Bay	0	0	0	0	0	-	0
San Jose - Mitic saved, Child missed, Davidovic scored, Ressel scored, 
Lukic missed, Wood scored
Tampa Bay - Fink scored, Robb missed, McLeod missed, Smethurst scored, 
Marsh missed, Paddon saved
 0	    Goals	 0
14	    Shots	19
 3	    SOG		 4
 4	    Saves	 3
 6	    Corners	 9
12	    Fouls	13
 0	    Offsides	 2
Cautions - Child (SJ) 30:19, Auguste (TB) 41:40
San Jose - Hewitt, B Demling, Verdi (Parviz 97:30), Rowlands, Davidovic, 
Kemp (Mitic 45:00), Lukic, Wood, Ressel, Child, DeLeon (Spann 84:05)
Tampa Bay - DuBose, Auguste, Fleeting, Papandrea, Connell, Fink, Marsh, 
McGuire (Paddon 69:08), Smethurst, Robb, McLeod
A - 17,860

A few things:

  • Okay, the goal-scoring thing is getting to be a problem. There have now been four goals scored in four replay games. I can only blame the idiot who came up with the cards.
  • Not only are there a dearth of shots, the shots there are have not even been close to being on goal. (Each player has a dice roll range that determines whether his shot will be on goal.) The rolls (actually Fast Action Card results) for shots on goal have been way out of range. Maybe it’s just the luck of the draw and it will even out over time.
  • This took two hours and 22 minutes to play (overtime + shootout), but regulation took less than two hours, so that’s a positive.
  • Rodney Marsh still hasn’t gotten untracked in the three games he’s played out of the four. He’s not seeing much of the ball, despite being the top-ranked offensive player on the team. (APBA Soccer is designed to give the better offensive players possession of the ball more often, but he’s not seeing it nearly enough to have a chance to score goals or create goal-scoring chances for others.) Hopefully that will even out soon and he’ll go on a tear.
  • The good news is my home-brewed shootout chart appears to be providing realistic results. The NASL historical average for shootout success was right around 40 percent and two shootouts in this replay have resulted in 10 scores in 22 attempts (or about 45 percent). So that’s close at least. (Not that I want to see many more of these, and I always enjoyed a good shootout.)
  • The Cosmos are, as mentioned, next up, and if the Rowdies can’t generate some offense, that’s going to be a long afternoon for them against the star-studded team from New York.
Kenn Tomasch

Kenn Tomasch