Rowdies rally for 2-1 victory at Minnesota
The Tampa Bay Rowdies rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Stars FC Saturday night at NSC Stadium.
Second half sub Keith Savage scored from 20 yards out in the 87th minute as Tampa Bay came back from an early 1-0 deficit to hand Minnesota its first loss at home this season.
"It was a very pleasing performance tonight," said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. "I give all the credit to the players for the great comeback and it was a tremendous strike by Keith on the game-winning goal. Even though we went down early tonight, we regrouped and refocused on the task at hand."
Stars forward Martin Nunez gave Minnesota an early lead when he beat Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella in the ninth minute after a pass from midfielder Kevin Venegas. It was the first goal allowed by Tampa Bay in the first half of any league match this season.
Tampa Bay appeared to tie the match in the 37th minute when captain Frankie Sanfilippo headed one into the back of the net, but a foul was called on the Rowdies to erase the goal.
Attinella kept the Rowdies in the match in the 40th minute. Stars forward Simone Bracalello took a free kick from just outside the box with a screaming shot at Attinella, who made a great save for Tampa Bay.
"Jeff managed to get his hands on the ball and push it wide," said Hill. "It was a critical play in the match because it would have been tough to come back from two goals down."
The Rowdies evened the match just before halftime, thanks to forward Tsuyoshi Yoshitake's second goal of the season. Yoshitake chipped a shot around Stars goalkeeper Matt VanOekel after a failed clearance attempt to tie the match at 1-1 in the 45th minute.
"We went in at halftime with some momentum and I felt we needed to remain on the offensive in the second half," said Hill.
Tampa Bay came out in the second half pushing for the go-ahead goal. Forward Luke Mulholland blasted a shot wide right in the 47th minute and Fafa Picault made a dangerous run in the 53rd that forced a Stars clearance. Following a corner kick by Mulholland in the 61st, the Stars cleared the ball, but defender Takuya Yamada hit a shot that went wide. Defender Daniel Scott added a hard shot following a free kick in the 68th minute, but it sailed wide left.
"I thought we looked threatening for much of the second half and we also showed some good patience in the back," said Hill.
Savage completed the comeback with his late goal from just outside the box after a pass from Yoshitake, giving the Rowdies their first come-from-behind victory this season.
"We needed to have some things go our way after a tough stretch," said Savage. "It was a great team effort tonight over a very good team in a difficult place to play."
"We need to take one game at a time starting next weekend against San Antonio," said Hill. "We know it will be a tough game, but we are delighted to earn the three points tonight against a tough side in Minnesota."
Minnesota: Martin Nunez - 9th minute (assisted by Kevin Venegas)
Rowdies: Tsuyoshi Yoshitake - 45th minute
Rowdies: Keith Savage - 87th minute (assisted by Tsuyoshi Yoshitake)
Minnesota Stars FC: GK Matt Van Oekel, D Cristiano Dias, D Justin Davis, D Brian Kallman, D Kyle Altman (Captain), M Neil Hlavaty (Daniel Wasson 77'), M Kentaro Takada, M Kevin Venegas (Andy Lorei 78'), M Fuad Ibarra, F Martin Nunez, F Simone Bracalello (Edi Buro 79')
Rowdies: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Daniel Scott, D Takuya Yamada, D JP Rodrigues, M Stuart Campbell, M Shane Hill (Keith Savage 76'), M Luke Mulholland, F Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, F Mike Ambersley, F Fafa Picault (Daniel Antoniuk 76')