ROWDIES DOMINATE COSMOS 2-0 IN 40TH ANNIVERSARY WIN
ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (September 5, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies gave themselves the best possible birthday present Saturday night, beating the rival New York Cosmos 2-0 in front of a frenzied crowd of 5,630 at Al Lang Stadium for Stuart Campbell’s first win as Rowdies head coach.
Goals on either side of halftime by Corey Hertzog in the 40th minute and Darwin Espinal in the 76th minute ensured that Tampa Bay would have plenty to celebrate. It was the third goal of the season for both players.
“It’s a very tough game because New York came in on a great run of form and they’re a great team with great players,” Campbell said. “We worked hard this week in training and the players have done everything the coaching staff has asked of them. They brought that onto the pitch tonight.”
The Rowdies had a large group of legendary former players on hand for a halftime celebration of the Tampa Bay’s inaugural season in 1975, but the result ensured the celebrations would continue all the way to and beyond the final whistle.
On the night, the Rowdies totally overpowered the Cosmos and could’ve won by a much larger margin. Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens was hardly called upon to make a save and the Rowdies squandered several chances to increase their lead in a dominant performance.
“I’d have been a bit more relaxed on the bench (if we had converted a couple more chances,)” Campbell said. “The Cosmos just keep going and they’ve scored so many late goals to get numerous points late on. 2-0 is a tricky scoreline and we kept creating chances, but couldn’t get the third goal. We’d have taken 2-0 before the game.”
After 15 good minutes by the Cosmos to open the match, Tampa Bay totally overpowered New York in handing it just its second loss of 2015. The Cosmos were shutout for just the fourth time all year.
The Rowdies had to wait until the 40th minute to pull ahead, when Georgi Hristov found space in the Cosmos’ 18-yard box to send a cross toward goal. Hertzog leapt high and put his right foot on the ball a few feet above the ground, gently guiding the ball past Jimmy Maurer in net for a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, the match was totally lopsided.
Hertzog should’ve scored again in the 50th minute, benefitting from a nice sequence of play in which Darnell King fed Hristov, who crossed to Hertzog. Hertzog took a few touches to beat the lone remaining defender, before firing a hard shot just wide of Maurer’s left-hand post.
Juan Guerra lobbed a ball over Maurer in the 58th minute, but it didn’t drop in time and hit the top of the crossbar.
Second-half substitute Darwin Espinal scored for the second consecutive week, receiving a cutback pass from Brian Shriver to put Tampa Bay up 2-0.
Hristov nearly put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute, when he beat Maurer with a shot, but it trickled inches wide of the far post. Shriver nearly tapped it in for the third goal, but didn’t reach the ball in time.
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 40th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies: Darwin Espinal - 76th minute (Assisted by Brian Shriver)
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire, Agbossoumonde, Sweat; King, Guerra, Saragosa (c) (Chavez 77'), Hertzog (Espinal 63'); Hristov, Santos
New York: Maurer; Freeman (Restrepo 46'), Roversio (Caceres 25', Mendes (c), Ayoze; Senna (Moffat 73'), Szetela; Guenzatti, Raúl, Fernandes; Mkosana