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Staunch defense an early season trademark of Rowdies

ST. PETERSBURG — They were 10 minutes to be marveled upon. The Rowdies pressed forward with singular purpose and looked like a constant threat to score, which they did three times while dispatching a 4-0 line on Toronto.

As memorable as last weekend's display was, some might forget what else the Rowdies (2-0) have been good at early in this United Soccer League season. The team has allowed just two shots on goal in two shutouts.

"It's been good," said Damion Lowe, 23, a new Rowdies defender who previously played with Seattle of the MLS.

Lowe and the Rowdies look to lock down a third opponent in Ottawa (0-1), coached by former Tampa Bay manager Paul Dalglish.

Along with fellow newcomer Luke Boden, Lowe has joined Neill Collins and Darnell King to create quite a back wall. Tampa Bay has gotten by without Tam Mkandawire, who is working his way back from an injury.

"Damion has been absolutely outstanding. Fantastic," Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said. "I knew he was a good player, I just didn't realize how good. He's got all the attributes."

They include the ability to score, as he did with a header off Michael Nanchoff's cross to set things rolling in the 12th minute against Toronto. Nanchoff went on to create two more goals in the dizzying 10-minute spell.

Lowe only has four goals in 49 pro matches since 2014, but recently scored for the Jamaican national team in a friendly against Honduras.

"That's what I live for. When I was younger I was an attacking player," Lowe said. "I scored a lot of goals, and I think I have a good IQ in anticipating, usually I knew a keeper's blind side. We've been practicing how we play on defense. Staying compact, working as a team, communicating. Holding the same line, not going for the same ball. We're doing the right things so far."

The Rowdies have completed 967 passes, second to Portland (but the Timbers have played an extra match). Boden is the most proficient passer with 126 completed. Lowe leads the defense with five clearances.

"Possession is key, especially in our environment when it gets hotter," Campbell said. "But there's no point in having the ball if you haven't gotten the end product. Fortunately we've been able to combine the two."

Tonight

vs. Ottawa, 7:30, Al Lang Stadium

Staunch defense an early season trademark of Rowdies 04/07/17 [Last modified: Friday, April 7, 2017 9:48pm]
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