Rowdies lose at Puerto Rico 2-0
The Tampa Bay Rowdies lost 2-0 to the Puerto Rico Islanders Saturday night at Bayamon Soccer Complex. Puerto Rico scored twice in the final 10 minutes of the match to remain undefeated at home in the regular season over the last two years.
"We are extremely frustrated to come away with no points after the effort the players put in tonight," said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. "For most of the night, we played as a team and looked organized, and I thought we were on our way to a good result. Unfortunately we fell victim again to our inability to handle our assignments on a set piece."
The Rowdies had their first opportunity in the 13th minute after some nifty passing from their front line. Mike Ambersley passed to Fafa Picault, who made his first start of the season. Picault headed the ball inside the box to Luke Mulholland in close and Puerto Rico was forced to make a sliding tackle on Mulholland to force a Rowdies corner kick.
Ambersley had another opportunity in the 39th minute after a nice cross from Takuya Yamada, but his header sailed wide to the right of the goal.
After a scoreless first half, Puerto Rico had the best chance of the match in the 47th minute. The Rowdies were called for a hand ball in the box and Puerto Rico was awarded a penalty kick. Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made a diving save to his right on Puerto Rico's David Foley to stop the penalty kick and keep the match scoreless.
Tampa Bay had two more good chances in the 65th minute after a great run from the back by defender Draymond Washington. Picault was stopped by Puerto Rico goalkeeper Richard Martin and Mulholland had a shot on goal that was saved as well.
The Islanders broke the scoreless tie in the 81st minute when Jay Needham headed home a corner kick from David Foley. Tampa Bay pressed for the tying goal and defender Frankie Sanfilippo almost scored the equalizer. Sanfilippo's header in second half injury time was saved from in close by Martin to keep the Rowdies off the board. Puerto Rico added a late goal on a counter attack as Jonathan Fana found Jarad Van Schaik on a two-on-one for the final goal.
"Jeff kept us in the match with some big saves and I thought our front three looked dangerous at times. But we are disappointed in the result and have nothing to show for it," said Hill. "We have to go back to work on Monday, address these issues and get ready for the game next weekend in Minnesota."
Puerto Rico: Jay Needham - 81st minute (assisted by David Foley)
Puerto Rico: Jarad Van Schaik - 90th+ minute (assisted by Jonathan Fana)
Puerto Rico Islanders: GK Richard Martin, D Jay Needham (Captain), D Edson Edward (Alexis Rivera 45'), D Anthony Vazquez, D Richard Martinez, M Yaw Danso (Nicholas Addlery 75'), M David Foley, M Justin Fojo, M Jarad Van Schaik, F Jonathan Fana, F Hector Ramos (Joshua Hansen 65')
Rowdies: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango, D Daniel Scott, D Draymond Washington (Matt Clare 83'), M Stuart Campbell, M Shane Hill (Keith Savage 87'), M Takuya Yamada, F Mike Ambersley, F Luke Mulholland, F Fafa Picault (Daniel Antoniuk 78')