ROWDIES DRAW 3-3 WITH MINNESOTA UNITED FC IN SPRING FINALE
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Minnesota United FC finished the final game of the NASL Spring Season with a 3-3 draw in front of a lively crowd at Al Lang Stadium. With the draw, Minnesota United clinched the NASL Spring Season championship and a berth in The Championship.
"It's mixed emotions (in the locker room) right now," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "I think they should be quite happy with the overall matter of how they went about the work tonight in the game, but I'm still quite disappointed with the manner of how we conceded the goals. We're definitely disappointed to not get all three points, but we'll feel a little bit better because, as an offensive unit, we looked a little bit more like our old selves."
The two sides played an open game with each team creating several legitimate chances with plenty of those turned into goals. The scoring was opened by Minnesota in the 12th minute when Justin Davis put the visitors ahead. Jamie Watson played the ball to Davis in the box, who looped his shot over Rowdies goalkeeper Cody Mizell to give United the lead.
The home side managed to claw their way back into the tie through goals from Blake Wagner and Lucky Mkosana in the 33rd and 45th minutes, respectively. Wagner’s half-volley was the end product of a nice piece of play for the home side. Georgi Hristov was played down the right flank before lofting the ball to the far side of the box for Wagner to finish. Mkosana was not left with much to do after his captain, Frankie Sanfilippo, played him a through ball down the right flank. Mkosana coolly slid the ball under the United goalkeeper to give Tampa Bay the lead.
It did not take United too long to make things even once more as they leveled the score at 2-2 just 12 minutes into the second half. Watson notched his second assist of the night when he played a low cross to midfielder Daniel Mendes, who slotted the ball past a diving Mizell. Minnesota took the lead for a second time when Miguel Ibarra curled a shot with his left foot past Mizell in the 61st minute. The through ball behind the Rowdies defense narrowly escaped the foot of Rowdies defender Kyle Clinton and left Ibarra clear on goal.
Sanfilippo brought the two sides even again in the 74th minute. The skipper provided a headed finish for Wagner’s corner at the far post. United keeper Mitchell Hildebrandt managed to get a hand on it, but it was not enough to keep Sanfilippo’s effort out.
"We could have come away with a victory instead of a tie," Sanfilippo said. "There were times where we had more possession of the ball and more opportunities. We didn't lose, but we didn't win. We've got to be better in the fall season."
United withstood the late onslaught from Tampa Bay throught three minutes to secure the Spring Season title. United successfully dealt with two dangerous corners in stoppage time to maintain their place atop the table. The two sides shared the points, which is a result that was representative of how the game was played.
Minnesota United FC: Justin Davis - 12th minute (Assisted by Jamie Watson)
Rowdies: Blake Wagner - 33rd minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies: Lucky Mkosana - 45th minute (Assisted by Frankie Sanfilippo)
Minnesota United FC: Daniel Mendes - 57th minute (Assisted by Jamie Watson)
Minnesota United FC: Miguel Ibarra - 61st minute
Rowdies: Frankie Sanfilippo - 74th minute (Assisted by Blake Wagner)
CARY, N.C. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies had chances to score against the Carolina RailHawks, but couldn’t quite manage to finish as they were beaten 2-0 on Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in front of a record crowd on 7,856.
"It’s another game that’s lost and I’m very disappointed in that," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "We’ve already lost three games this season and that’s way too many in my estimation."
Carolina took an early 1-0 lead, courtesy of forward Mike Grella in the 18th minute.
Grella’s goal, a clever finish after an inch-perfect lob from Jun Marques Davidson, gave the RailHawks a lead, but the Rowdies arguably had the better chances of the half as they fought to negate their deficit.
"On the balance of play, I’m not too displeased with how we performed over the course of 90 minutes," Hill said. "Our issues are in both boxes. We have to be a little bit better defensively. The first goal was a difficult one because it came out of the blue. It was a turnover from our throw-in and we find ourselves 1-nil down. It was against the run of play at that stage."
Tampa Bay’s barrage started in the 25th minute when midfielder Evans Frimpong poked a cross toward goal and clanked it off Carolina goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald’s right-hand post and out of danger.
In the 30th minute, forward Casey Townsend had a shot on goal. Five minutes later, Townsend found himself one-on-one with Fitzgerald in the box, but was unable to beat the reigning NASL Player of the Week and equalize for the Rowdies.
Anthony Wallace tested Fitzgerald with a dangerous free kick in the 44th minute, but Carolina retained its 1-0 lead going into the break.
Carolina started the second half on the front foot, with Nazmi Albadawi ripping a shot off the crossbar a few minutes into the half.
Rowdies goalkeeper Cody Mizell came up big in the 54th minute, saving a penalty kick taken by Grella to keep the deficit 1-0.
Forwards Lucky Mkosana and Brian Shriver were inserted in to the match in the 63rd minute, but the Rowdies were unable to find an equalizer. It was Shriver’s first league appearance since spraining his ankle in San Antonio on May 3.
RailHawks winger Tiyi Shipalane doubled Carolina’s lead in the 72nd minute, finishing well after a pass from Cesar Elizondo to put his team up 2-0.
"When the penalty was given and Cody saved it, I thought that would have given us a lift, but when we defend in the manner that we did on the second goal, then we’re asking a lot to score two goals in 15 minutes," Hill said. "In the second half, we tried to forewarn our defenders to be aware of the fact that they make diagonal runs from out to in and not to try and play offside, but to instead track your runner. We didn’t heed that warning."
The Rowdies continued to put pressure on the RailHawks defense, including an 81st minute shot by Blake Wagner that was blocked before reaching goal, but were unable to find a goal.
Carolina: Mike Grella - 18th minute (Assisted by Jun Marques Davidson)
Carolina: Tiyi Shipalane - 72nd minute (Assisted by Cesar Elizondo)