Rowdies Edge Out Strikers in First Meeting of the Season
The Tampa Bay Rowdies climbed to the top of the table on Saturday night in Ft. Lauderdale, thanks to a 2-1 victory over their in-state rivals Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. Goals from midfielders Luke Mulholland and Alex Dixon put the Rowdies up by two, but the home team would slash the lead to just one after a late goal by midfielder Walter Restrepo. A late push by the Strikers almost found them the equalizer, but the Rowdies were solid defensively, picking up their second win this season.
"All credit to our team for their performance tonight," stated Head Coach Ricky Hill. "We were able to stay concentrated the entire 90 minutes and come out of here with a win. Taking three points out of a derby is a big accomplishment and I feel we deserved them tonight."
Both teams shared possession in the first half with Tampa Bay dominating early on. Ft. Lauderdale would react and even out the ball control as the minutes progressed but they would not be able to force any dangerous chances on the Rowdies goal.
Tampa Bay came out strong in the last part of the first half, scoring a late goal in the final minutes of the first half that gave the reigning NASL Champions a 1-0 lead at the half over the Strikers. Midfielder Luke Mulholland scored his third goal of the season off a strike from outside the 18-yard box that was just out of the reach of Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser. Mulholland's shot curled into the bottom left corner of the net, taking a bounce off the post before it hit the back of the net.
Mulholland's goal seemed to lower the momentum of the match in the second half, as both teams would share possession and were unable to create any dangerous chances.
With Frimpong already in the books, Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill opted to put Dixon in his place in the 63rd minute. The substitute proved to be vital for the Rowdies, scoring his first goal with the club in the 78th minute. The game-winning goal came off a low cross from the left flank by forward Georgi Hristov, which Dixon tapped in for the two-goal lead.
"It is tremendous for him to pick up this goal," explained Hill. "To come into the match in the second half and make the impact he made on the pitch is great for him and for all of the players. His goal gave the entire squad the cushion they needed to get this great victory."
Instantly Ft. Lauderdale reacted, as second half substitute Restrepo made it 2-1 in the 80th minute. Restrepo was able to beat the Rowdies goalkeeper, who had come off his line, and slid the ball into the empty net.
As expected, the Strikers looked for the equalizer in the last 10 minutes of the match, but Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo came up big in several dangerous chances.
"It was a pleasing defensive performance, especially in those last 10 minutes where we were able to hold the Strikers' final push for the equalizer," commented Hill. "The entire squad managed to stay organized even after the several adjustments we had to make because of injuries. Every player was concentrated on the pitch and they all played their part in obtaining the win tonight."
Rowdies - Luke Mulholland - 42nd minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies - Alex Dixon - 78th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies Unable to Hold Lead in Second Half, Losing 4-3 to Atlanta
The reigning NASL Champion Rowdies saw their two-goal advantage disappear in the second half, losing 4-3 to the Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.
"I saw the warning signs in the first half and we didn’t deserve to be 3-1 up,” admitted Rowdies coach Ricky Hill. “The disappointing thing was they scored goals from outside the box and we backed off and let them have shots. When you’re 3-1 up you should take something from the game and we haven’t done that through our own inability as a team."
Midfielder Evans Frimpong opened the scoring in the 8th minute, putting the Rowdies up 1-0 with a perfect volley from around the penalty spot. The go-ahead goal was set up by midfielder Luke Mulholland who headed down the ball to Frimpong from the left flank. Frimpong's goal is his first this season, while the English midfielder picked up his second assist in two straight games.
For several minutes the action had calmed down with the Rowdies controlling their one-goal lead. Atlanta's forward Ruben Luna disrupted the calm in the 22nd minute volleying the ball into the back of the net. Midfielder Borfor Carr made a run down the right flank, crossing the ball perfectly to an incoming Luna in the box.
The 1-1 score wouldn't last, as the Rowdies quickly regrouped and Mulholland scored a goal of his own off the reset. The midfielder recieved a pass from the touchline by forward Georgi Hristov and buried the ball in the back of the net. Mulholland would double the lead in the 43rd minute, catching goalkeeper Joe Nasco off guard and burying a free kick to make it 3-1.
The SIlverbacks began the second half pressuring the Rowdies and desperately searching for the goal that would cut the lead to one. Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Tampa Bay would see there lead diminish to one after midfielder Pedro Mendes caught Rowdies goalkeeper Andrew Fontein off his line. Luna would score the equalizer minutes later, beating both Fontein and Needham to the ball, pushing it into the net for the partial 3-3
"We came out strong in the first half, but their early second half goal killed our momentum," commented Mulholland. "The second half was up for grabs after their goal and they were able to turn the match around. We are disappointed with the loss tonight, but we are confident that during the week we will work on our mistakes.
The Rowdies fell behind for the first time this season in the 70th minute after Mendes scored off a strike from just outside the 18-yard box.
After continous chances on the Rowdies goal, Atlanta was unable to stretch the lead leaving the home team with several scoring chances before the final whistle. The Rowdies failed to win or draw for the first time in 14 home games.
Rowdies - Evans Frimpong - 8th minute (Assisted by Luke Mulholland)
Atlanta - Ruben Luna - 22nd Minute (Assisted by Borfor Carr)
Rowdies - Luke Mulholland - 24th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies - Luke Mulholland - 43rd minute
Atlanta - Pedro Mendes - 53rd minute (Assisted by Richie Menjivar)
Atlanta - Ruben Luna - 63rd minute
Atlanta - Pedro Mendes - 70th minute (Assisted by Milton Blanco)
Rowdies: Fontein; Sanfilippo (Captain), Needham, Yamada, Cox; Frimpong (Del Do 74'), Mulholland, Hill, Savage (Dixon 65'); Walker, Hristov
The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up their first win of the 2013 NASL Spring Season on Saturday night, defeating the San Antonio Scorpions 2-0 at Toyota Field. Forwards Amani Walker and Georgi Hristov guided the reigning NASL Champions to their first franchise win at San Antontio since the Scorpions entered the NASL in 2012.
“Obviously we’re delighted to come away with three points,” said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “We were determined to come here and without being disrespectful, spoil the party.”
With the Rowdies pressuring early on, Walker scored the club's first goal this season in the 12th minute thanks to a perfectly placed header. The go-ahead goal came off a corner kick by midfielder Luke Mulholland, finding Walker wide open around the penalty spot making it 1-0.
"We played very well for our first away match of the season and our work ethic matched it," stated Walker. "We wanted to win each half and keep the shutout. We accomplished the goal we set out to have tonight. On the goal, it was a great ball in from Luke and the corner just worked how we wanted."
As expected, the Scorpions came out looking for the equalizer but ran into a solid Rowdies defense. The home team nearly scored the tying goal in the 42nd minute, but midfielder Edin Husic was unable to tap the ball in at the far post. The first half came to a close with the Rowdies up 1-0, with Walker scoring the lone goal.
After creating several chances early on in the second half, the Scorpions would be caught off guard defensively in the 55th minute. The Rowdies doubled the lead after forward Georgi Hristov capitalized a penalty kick in the 56th minute. The forward recieved a great through ball by second half substitute Shane Hill and was brought down in the box by Scorpions goalkeeper Pat Hannigan.
With the Scorpions down two goals, they began to step up in the field but found themselves with a prolific Rowdies goalkeeper.
“Our goalkeeper Andrew Fontein waited patiently last year for his chance to play and didn’t get any minutes,” commented Hill. “Now Andrew has two games and two clean sheets, which is not a bad way to start”
Fontein had a solid night making multiple saves to keep the Rowdies ahead in the match. This is his second shutout of the season, with the Rowdies yet to concede a goal in the 2013 NASL Spring Season. The 2-0 victory puts the Rowdies on top of the NASL standing, sharing first place with the Carolina RailHawks.
Rowdies: Amani Walker - 12th minute (Assisted by Luke Mulholland)
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 56th minute (Penalty Kick)
San Antonio: Hannigan; DeRoux, Janicki, Vucko, Harmse (Captain); Ramirez, Phelan, Husic, Denissen; Martin (Jordan 58') (Bayona 63'), Milicevic (Vasilic 58')
Rowdies: Fontein; Sanfilippo (Captain), Needham, Yamada, Arango (Savage 45'); Frimpong, Mulholland, Hill, Cox; Walker (Del Do 69'), Hristov
Rowdies Draw Home Opener Against Carolina Railhawks
The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Carolina RailHawks played to a 0-0 tie at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night. The reigning NASL Champions didn’t take long to show why they took the title home last year, pressuring the Carolina RailHawks from the opening kickoff. Rowdies defender Jay Needham had two dangerous headers early on, with his second attempt in the 18th minute being waived off due to an offside call.
"Overall I was happy with our performance, apart from not getting that all-important first goal,” said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “I felt defensively we looked sound and solid. Offensively, with a little more composure, we might have opened them up. We’d like to win out home games, but a point is a good start to the season.”
Midfielders Luke Mulholland and Evans Frimpong continuously fed the ball into the box looking for the attacking targets on the field. Mulholland came close to scoring the first goal of the season for the Rowdies in the 30th minute off a perfectly placed free kick. RailHawks goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald was quick on his feet and punched the ball out for a corner kick.
"Luck wasn't on our side tonight," commented Mulholland. "We created chances that could put us in front playing a compact and controlled style tonight. We have to make sure we put away our chances and it is something we'll work on at practice this week."
With the Rowdies dominating the first half, the last chance came in the 38th minute with a dangerous header from forward Amani Walker. Midfielder Raphael Cox delivered a great cross, but Walker’s header at the far post was tipped out by Fitzgerald.
The Rowdies continued to dominate the second half as they held off the RailHawks while creating plenty of chances on goal. The Rowdies had their best scoring chance in the 79th minute when second-half substitute Devin Del Do’s header deflected off of the crossbar for a goal kick.
"Our performance was positive tonight," stated Del Do. "It's encouraging that we are producing these opportunities, now we just have to find a way to finish in the final third. We have to concentrate in those scoring opportunities and put these games away early."
Mulholland moved the ball around well for the Rowdies as he continuously connected passes to help keep possession and try to break down the RailHawks defense. In the dying minutes, Carolina's center back Paul Hamilton received his second yellow card, which opened things up for the Rowdies offensively.
In the end, the match ended as a tie with neither team able to put the ball in the back of the net. The Rowdies out shot the RailHawks 17 -6, forcing Fitzgerald to make seven crucial saves to maintain the score 0-0.