Rowdies Come Away from Edmonton with a Scoreless Draw
The Tampa Bay Rowdies played to a scoreless draw against FC Edmonton despite the Canadian team playing a man down for over 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon at Clarke Stadium. Edmonton's defender Mallan Roberts was sent off in the 53rd minute after receiving his second yellow card of the match. The red card opened the match up creating spaces for the Rowdies in the final 30 minutes.
The NASL Champions began the first half unable to keep possession of the ball, something that Tampa Bay is known for. It was FC Edmonton that would have the first chance 30 minutes into the match with midfielder Shaun Saiko recieving a pass inside the box from forward Michael Cox. Saiko took a shot but it went straight to Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, who was able to come up with the save.
As the half progressed, the Rowdies began to feel more comfortable and retained more possession. Defender Andres Arango almost gave the Rowdies the lead in the 41st minute with a strike from around the penalty spot but it was pushed out of play by goalkeeper John Smits.
"We started the game very well," commented Head Coach Ricky Hill. "During most of the first half I felt we weren't under much pressure and we were able to stop any dangerous chances from forming. I am happy with the manner we went about our work as we looked threatening at points during the match.
On the ensuing corner kick, Smits once again denied the Rowdies the lead with another save off the line. Tampa Bay's defense found itself well-situated in various moments of the first half, with Captain Frankie Sanfilipo making two key defensive blocks to not allow the Eddies to get a shot on target.
At the start of the second half, Rowdies defender Jordan Gafa came up big clearing the ball out for a corner kick before Cox could take a shot on Restrepo. After Roberts' red card, midfielder Luke Mulholland saw more spaces open up in the midfield giving him chances to set up forward Georgi Hristov and second-half substitute Mike Ambersley with several great passes.
Even though Tampa Bay had the man advantage, the Eddies still were able to shake things up in the Rowdies box through set pieces. However, like against Seattle, Tampa Bay responded well and cleared the ball away from the box without problems.
"With them going down to 10 men, they tried to stay within game and deny space in the defensive third," explained Hill. "We could have moved ball better in my opinion. At times we were on the ball to long and it enabled them to get set up and stop our attacks."
With Ambersley making a run into the heart of the box, Hristov was able to send a cross in the 67th minute but it would never reach the target as Smits would come off his line to cut the pass. Once again the Bulgarian was key in the Rowdies offense, making constant runs into the box trying to catch Edmonton's defense off guard.
In the 74th minute, Mulholland placed a perfect through ball into the right side of the box to find Hristov at the end of the pass. The Bulgarian took a powerful shot but Smits was able to send the ball out to a corner kick.
FC Edmonton: Smits; Edwards, Watson (Captain), Roberts, Laing; Saiko, Nurse, Hlavaty, Garrett; Fordyce, Cox (Proctor 58')
Rowdies: Restrepo; Gafa, Sanfilippo (Captain), Yamada (C), Arango; Mulholland, Hill, Savage, Cox (Frimpong 80'); Hristov, Del Do (Ambersley 63')