ROWDIES SUFFER FIRST DEFEAT OF THE SEASON LOSING 3-1 AGAINST ATLANTA SILVERBACKS
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Georgi Hristov’s first goal of 2014 wasn’t quite enough as the Tampa Bay Rowdies lost their first match of the season Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in front of 4,670, dropping a 3-1 decision to the visiting Atlanta Silverbacks.
“The players are very disappointed,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “They know, without me having to tell them, that that wasn’t good enough, collectively. It’s another three points that we don’t have now. We’re playing catch up.”
An exciting first half hour of play saw the Silverbacks build a 2-1 halftime lead, which they built on in the second half to pick up the win.
Atlanta’s Junior Sandoval gave the visiting Silverbacks an early lead in only the seventh minute of play, collecting a pass from Blair Gavin and slotting home from the right side of the box.
Tampa Bay nearly found itself down 2-0 after 12th minute when the Atlanta was awarded a penalty kick due to a Rowdies handball in the box. As he did on April 12, Matt Pickens made the penalty save to keep the Rowdies in the match.
“Where we’re letting ourselves down, drastically, is out intensity when we begin a game,” Hill said. “I’ve always been told that when you start a game, it’s not pretty. It’s going to be ugly football early on and you have to impose your will on the game. We fell asleep after four minutes.”
The Rowdies made a quick comeback with Georgi Hristov equalizing in the 15th minute. Darel Russell played in a cross from the right wing which was collected at the edge of the box by Hristov, who spun and fired low to the left of Atlanta goalkeeper Derby Carrillo.
Gavin helped Atlanta to another lead with a 26th minute free kick delivery from just across the halfway line which was pushed home by Jaime Chavez for a 2-1 Atlanta lead that carried to the halftime break.
The Silverbacks’ Deon McCaulay added to their advantage in the 51st minute, shooting past Pickens for his for Atlanta goal.
Rowdies coach Ricky Hill made aggressive substitutions in the 64th minute — taking off midfielders Evans Frimpong and Anthony Wallace and replacing them with forwards Carl Cort and Lucky Mkosana — but the Rowdies couldn’t pull a goal back.
“It hurts when they score goals like that,” Hristov said. “It’s only the third week of the season and the season is so long. The big thing is that there’s always a next game. There’s always next game, when you can prove you’re better than what you showed in your last game.”
Midfielder Darel Russell came close on a number of occasions, including a spectacular overhead kick, but Atlanta goalkeeper Eric Ati, who entered the match as a substitute in the 37th minute, was there at every calling.
“Credit to (Ati,)” Hill said. “If we got one back (from down 3-1,) I’m sure we might have been able to get another one, but we cannot concede goals in the manner we did. We've got work to do this week with Orlando on Wednesday night. It's great because the quicker we can get out and have a game, the better it'll be for us to get this memory out of our system. We have to put a better show on. ”
Atlanta Silverbacks: Junior Sandoval- 7th minute (Assisted by Blair Gavin)
Rowdies: Hristov- 15th minute (Assisted by Darel Russell)
Atlanta Silverbacks: Jaime Chavez- 26th minute (Assisted by Blair Gavin)
Atlanta Silverbacks: Deon McCaulay- 51st minute (Assisted by Pablo Cruz)
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Rowdies earned a road point Saturday night at Michael A. Carroll Stadium after a 1-1 draw with the Indy Eleven.
Forward Brian Shriver opened his Rowdies account with a goal in the 48th minute in front of 10,421, but the Eleven equalized through Erick Norales in the 81st minute to earn the draw.
Neither team made a change to their opening night lineups, though Tampa Bay coach Ricky Hill did make one tactical adjustment, dropping Evans Frimpong from the front line into the midfield.
The Rowdies controlled most of the ball in the first half, with Anthony Wallace and Georgi Hristov connecting particularly well along the left wing.
"I was pretty happy, apart from the first 15 or 20 minutes where we take too long to try and get a pattern of our play and get the ball on the ground and pass it," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "We have to be a lot braver in terms of the players being responsible to receive it and pass it. We have to be a little bit more determined to not turn the ball over."
The first decent chance of the match came in the 15th minute, when Frimpong played Hristov through on goal, but Kristian Nicht was there to make the save for Indy.
Three minutes later, Kleberson took a shot from about 30 yards out which rocketed off Matt Pickens’ crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Hristov had another few shots in the first half and helped to create some as well, including a 38th minute cross which was headed toward goal by Frimpong, but Nicht was again present to make the save.
Just after halftime, Rowdies left back Blake Wagner threaded a through ball to Shriver, who quickly finished past Nicht for his first Rowdies goal in the 48th minute.
"Brian Shriver was a threat throughout," Hill said. "He was very lively with his movement."
Indy showed its speed with a counterattack in the 67th minute, breaking quickly after a Rowdies free kick and setting up a three-on-three offensive opportunity. J.P. Rodrigues ended the danger with a quick step and got the ball out of play.
Kleberson nearly scored the equalizing goal in the 73rd minute, blasting a free kick from 30 yards out off the inside of Pickens’ right-hand goal post, but the Rowdies’ lead carried on.
Norales’ 81st minute equalizer was created by shifty work on the right wing by second-half substitute Dylan Mares. Mares created some space and slotted across the face of goal, slightly behind Norales, but the defender showed some flexibility in reaching back to poke the ball into the net."For a lion's share of the game, we did fairly well as a team," Hill said. "Through a lack of communication, we end up turning the ball over after we've averted the danger of a free kick and it ends up with an Indy Eleven player and two passes later, it's in the back of our net. We have to be a lot more focused. Our determination to ensure that doesn't happen has to be a lot greater. We're grateful when we put a point on the board. Is it two points dropped? It feels like it most definitely is. We have to be a little more ruthless when we're dominating games."
Rowdies: Brian Shriver - 48th minute (Assisted by Blake Wagner)
Indy: Erick Norales - 81st minute (Assisted by Dylan Mares)
Indy Eleven: Nicht (c); Estridge, Norales, Frias, Hyland; Ring, Kleberson, Corrado (Mendes 46'), Moore (Mares 78'), Ramirez; Ambersley
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies and FC Edmonton shared the points after a 1-1 draw on a dramatic opening night of the 2014 North American Soccer League Spring Season on Saturday night.
“I felt that we worked hard and dug in,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “The second half opened a little bit more and I felt that half was a lot better. We managed to string a few passes together and make a few moves. We still have to be a little bit braver collectively in terms of keeping possession of the ball.”
The Rowdies pulled ahead in the 32nd minute on an own goal by Edmonton defender Kareem Moses. Tampa Bay midfielder Darel Russell floated a dangerous ball into the Edmonton box and Moses, under pressure, deflected the ball into his own net.
FC Edmonton looked beaten until a late equalizer created in large part by Daryl Fordyce. Fordyce raced down the right wing and looped in a perfect cross to second-half substitute Tomi Ameobi, who headed home to level the match in the 88th minute.
It was a choppy start to the match, with neither team really settling in to the first match of the 2014 season. FC Edmonton had the better of the early chances, with the first shot of the match coming in the 8th minute. New Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens was there for an easy catch and the danger was averted.
Edmonton had another strong scoring chance with a two-on-one in the 28th minute, but Horace James’ pass across the face of goal was behind its target and cleared by the defense.
With the Rowdies up 1-0 at halftime, FC Edmonton came out the stronger side after the break. The match nearly turned when Pickens was adjudged to have committed a foul on Eddies forward Frank Jonke in the 54th minute and Edmonton was awarded a penalty kick.
Pickens stood strong on the kick, diving right to save Neil Hlavaty’s effort and preserving the Rowdies’ lead.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Pickens said of the result. “In any league, these are all dogfights. The first month of the season is going to be like this. We’re super disappointed not to get three points and to give away a pretty cheap goal late in the game. We got a point and we’ve got to move on.”
The final five minutes were played end-to-end with the Rowdies piling on pressure in their search of a match-winner and Edmonton replying on fast breaks. Neither team could find the goal and nab all three points before the full-time whistle.
“I’m happy with the effort and the commitment for sure, but can we do better offensively? Of course we can,” Hill said. “We changed it, we brought on Casey (Townsend) and we brought on Lucky (Mkosana) and they had an impact straight away, which was nice. It’s a shame we couldn’t hold out for that goal, but nevermind. We got a point. We’ll move on to next week.”
Rowdies: Kareem Moses - 32nd minute (Own Goal)
FC Edmonton: Tomi Ameobi- 88th minute (Assisted by Daryl Fordyce)
BRADENTON, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies closed out their 2014 preseason with a spirited 1-1 draw against Icelandic top-flight club Valur FC at IMG Academy Stadium.
The Rowdies took a 1-0 lead just before the halftime break on an own goal created by Tampa Bay midfielder Anthony Wallace. Wallace’s corner kick was directed to Keith Savage before Mads Nielsen stepped in front and accidentally headed into his own net.
Valur FC equalized in the 77th minute on a penalty kick converted by Magnús Lúðvíksson.
“In a lot of ways, we got what we were looking for,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “Overall, I was happy with the progression our defense has had this preseason. I still think there’s more room for improvement, particularly when we’re under pressure. We don’t really clear our lines well enough and regroup.”
Playing with a full-strength lineup, the Rowdies had a dynamic attack in the first half, led by the three-pronged front line of Georgi Hristov, Brian Shriver and Evans Frimpong.
Shriver nearly scored in the 18th minute, running onto a through ball from midfield, but was just beaten to it by Valur goalkeeper Fjalar Þorgeirsson. Shriver was active late in the half, taking a shot that was forced out for a corner kick that led to the Valur own goal.
The Rowdies applied more pressure in the second half, with Hristov setting up Frimpong for a great chance just after the hour mark, but Frimpong’s effort went high. In the 68th minute, Darel Russell played Lucky Mkosana in on goal, but Mkosana’s shot was saved.
Newly-signed goalkeeper Matt Pickens was active breaking up Valur’s attack before the visitors could create shots.
“(Pickens) held the play out of our box for long periods,” Hill said. “From that perspective, things have improved.”
Rowdies: Mads Nielsen - 45th minute (Own Goal)
Valur FC: Magnus Ludviksson - 77th minute (Penalty Kick)