Rowdies Extend Unbeaten Run with Late Equalizer Against Minnesota
The Tampa Bay Rowdies scored in the final minute to earn a 1-1 draw against Minnesota United FC on Saturday night at NSC Stadium in Blaine, MN. Forward Pablo Campos had scored the lone goal of the first half, but the Rowdies constant pressure in the second half paid off as defender Andres Arango leveled the match with a header in the final play.
“We’ve got three or four capable strikers so we changed to a 4-3-3 formation," said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. "This change left us open at the back, where we had to rely on Diego (Restrepo) to make some great saves. That gave us an opportunity to equalize in the last minute. I have to give credit to my players for fighting hard until the last minute and I can’t grumble about taking a point.”
The Rowdies began the match with an active midfield, as Evans Frimpong made several runs down the left flank, but in various opportunities the crosses were cleared out. Tampa Bay would have a goal disallowed in the 9th minute, when forward Carl Cort smashed a rebound into the back of the net. The forward would be called offsides, maintaining the score at 0-0.
As both teams began to find some spaces, it was Minnesota that got on the scoreboard first with a goal in the 17th minute. Midfielder Calum Mallace played a quick free kick, sliding the ball into the left flank where forward Max Griffin was making a run. Griffin found some space and sent a cross into the heart of the box, finding Campos, who tapped it in for the 1-0 lead.
In the final minute of the first half, forward Georgi Hristov would have a chance to equalize the match. The Bulgarian found himself 25 yards out and took a shot but Minnesota goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel would push the ball over the bar for a corner kick.
The second half began with the Rowdies pushing for the equalizer, increasing the pressure in the midfield. Although the Rowdies had more possession in the beginning minutes, they were unable to create any chances in the final third. Hristov would have two chances in the 60th minute, but he was unable to get clear shots in both opportunities.
Once again, it was Restrepo who kept the Rowdies in this match making his first of several game-changing saves in the 71st minute. Bracalello escaped down the left flank and fired off a shot but the goalkeeper was able to make the save with his left foot keeping the Rowdies down one.
While the Rowdies continued to pack on the pressure, United would get their chance to close out the match in the final minutes of play. Campos first found his shot denied by Restrepo in the 85th minute, while minutes later the goalkeeper made another fantastic save from close range on the Brazilian forward. Former Rowdies forward Mike Ambersley had come on in the second half for Minnesota and on the ensuing drive he would have his scoring chance saved by Restrepo.
With the match coming to a close, the Rowdies earned one final corner kick. With everyone in the box, the long cross found captain Frankie Sanfilippo at the far post. The defender played the ball into the heart of the box with Arango getting at the end of the cross to score the equalizer. Arango's goal extended the Rowdies unbeaten run to five, picking up another vital point on the road.
Minnesota: Pablo Campos - 17th minute (Assisted by Max Griffin)
Rowdies: Andres Arango - 90+ minute (Assisted by Frankie Sanfilippo)
Minnesota: VanOekel; Venegas, Tobin (Captain), Pitchkolan, Davis; Bracalello (Franks 87'), Reed, Mallace, Ubiparipovic (Ambersley 80'), Griffin (Ibarra 77'), Campos
Rowdies: Restrepo; Sanfilippo (Captain), Yamada, Needham, Arango; Frimpong, Savage (Campbell 85'), Hill, Cox (Barbara 63'); Hristov, Cort (Del Do 77')