ROWDIES DROP 2-0 DECISION TO SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Tampa Bay Rowdies dropped their first points of the NASL Fall Season on Saturday night following a 2-0 loss to the league-leading San Antonio Scorpions at Al Lang Stadium.
The Rowdies fell behind in the 30th minute when Tomasz Zahorski redirected a corner kick toward the Rowdies goal and Lucky Mkosana was unable to prevent it from crossing the line. The Rowdies pushed hard for an equalizer in the second half, but were ultimately caught out in stoppage time by a Sainey Touray goal to seal the scoreline.
Tampa Bay fielded an unchanged starting lineup from its 2-1 road win over the Indy Eleven on July 19 and started the match aggressively. Patrolling the right flank, Mkosana charged at Scorpions leftback Stephen DeRoux, forcing San Antonio goalkeeper Josh Saunders into making multiple saves to keep the Rowdies off the scoreboard in the opening 10 minutes. Saunders made his Scorpions debut on the night, playing for the first time since being loaned to San Antonio by MLS side New York City FC.
“I was absolutely delighted for the first 20 minutes,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “We created chances on goal, near misses and exciting moments, but then we got a little bit complacent when we failed to score.”
From there, San Antonio — coming off a 2-0 midweek win over the Carolina RailHawks — began to find its footing.
“We stopped doing the basic things well,” Hill said. “We stopped protecting the ball and we gave it away cheaply. Unforced errors created anxiety and they managed to score from one of those moments.”
In the 29th minute, Scorpions midfielder Rafael Castillo had a huge shot from outside the box that Rowdies ‘keeper Matt Pickens got to on a full stretch, but he deflected the ball wide to hand San Antonio a corner kick on their attacking right. Castillo then took the corner and hit a long outswinger that found Julius James on the far side of the six-yard box. James headed the ball downward into the middle of the area and right into the path of Tomasz Zahorski, who stretched to toe poke the ball home before the in-form Pickens could react. Mkosana attempted to keep the ball out, but was unable.
The Rowdies have fallen behind in all three matches so far this Fall Season, but Saturday night was the first time they failed to turn the result around and win the match.
In the 60th minute, Georgi Hristov fed Casey Townsend a pass that Townsend smashed into the net, but the goal was waved off as offside.
Carl Cort, Brian Shriver and Evans Frimpong were all inserted into the match by Hill, but the Rowdies were unable to find a way past Saunders.
“Their goalkeeper was inspired and if that happens, we’re going to struggle,” Hill said. “We’re disappointed to concede the second goal because it flatters them slightly and makes it look like it’s been a more difficult night than it was.”
As time wound down and the Rowdies got more desperate, the Scorpions sat deeper in their own half, content to absorb the pressure and quickly counterattack, which is exactly what they did in stoppage time with Eric Hassli feeding Touray as he raced by the Rowdies’ backline to finish easily past Pickens.
San Antonio: Own Goal
San Antonio: Sainey Touray - 90th minute (assisted by Eric Hassli)
LATE HEROICS FROM HRISTOV GIVES ROWDIES 2-1 VICTORY OVER INDY ELEVEN
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Georgi Hristov scored in the 89th minute to lead the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a very late win in front of a hostile sellout crowd in Indianapolis, as the Rowdies beat the Indy Eleven 2-1 on Saturday night.
Hristov’s game-winning goal was set up by second-half substitute Brian Shriver on the right wing. Shriver rounded his defender and spotted Hristov waiting for the ball at point-blank range. He crossed it in and Hristov tapped it in from about two yards out, emphatically kicking it into the roof of the net.
“We’re delighted to come away with all three points,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “This is a fantastic atmosphere and Indy gave it a real go in the second half. Credit to our back four and the whole team for the shape that we managed to keep for the whole game. We created one or two clean-cut chances that we weren’t able to convert. The substitutes came on ready to play and had an impact straight away.”
The Rowdies dominated much of the play in the first half against the Indy Eleven, but found themselves down 1-0 after a superb Kleberson strike from distance in the 38th minute. Three minutes later, Casey Townsend erased the deficit with a goal of his own to send the match into halftime even at 1-1.
The Rowdies controlled much of the possession early on, with Shane Hill and Georgi Hristov each recording shots in the five first minutes. In the 10th minute, the Rowdies’ thrusts forward continued, with Tampa Bay earning a series of three corner kicks.
The match started to even out 25 minutes in, but Darel Russell and Lucky Mkosana both managed looks on goal as the 30 minute mark came and went.
Kleberson’s 25-yard goal was set up nicely by winger Blake Smith, who pulled the ball back from the byline and found Kleberson in enough space to shoot.
Down 1-0, the Rowdies kept their composure.
In the 41st minute, Darel Russell charged forward with the ball at his feet and shot from about eight yards out, beating Indy goalkeeper Kristian Nicht, but his shot caromed softly off the post and dribbled across the face of goal. Townsend seized the opportunity and scored to pull the Rowdies even.
“Russell ran around three or four defender and shot it in,” Townsend said. “Everyone thought it was going in, so they stopped. Their defenders stopped playing and I didn’t. I just tapped it in. That’s what I’m here for; that was a poacher’s goal. Those are what I’m here to get.”
The second half didn’t feature as many great scoring chances, though Indy controlled most of the second 45 minutes. The Eleven tallied eight shots on target, but Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens played superbly in net to limit Indy to one goal.
Evans Frimpong and Brian Shriver were inserted into the match in the 70th minute, with Frimpong taking position on the left side, opposite Shriver on the right. Tampa Bay’s final substitution saw Amani Walker make his 2014 NASL debut in place on Townsend in the 82nd minute.
With the left side of Indy’s defense worn down from Mkosana’s efforts down the flank for more than an hour, Shriver had plenty of space to play.
“I could tell that Lucky had run at him all game when I got him,” Shriver said. “I just tried to go at him and create some chances. (Russell) slid me the ball and I looked up and tried to hit the ball behind the defenders. Georgi made a great run and just first-timed it into the back of the net.”
Indy Eleven: Kleberson - 38th minute (Assisted by Blake Smith)
Rowdies: Casey Townsend - 43rd minute
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 89th minute (Assisted by Brian Shriver)
ROWDIES SCORE EXTRA-TIME WINNER TO BEAT SILVERBACKS 3-2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Georgi Hristov’s stoppage time header lifted the Tampa Bay Rowdies past the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 in the NASL Fall season opener in front of an energetic crowd at Al Lang Stadium. The home side opened the season with three points on the back of a heroic performance from Hristov, the reigning NASL Golden Ball winner.
“It’s absolutely the best way to start the season,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “The three points are vital for us from a confidence perspective. How we got them doesn’t matter now because we have them.”
Neither side could really assert their dominance on the opponent early on in the match. Tampa Bay earned free kicks in dangerous positions but could not find the back of the net. The opening stages of the game were not fluid either, with play interrupted by numerous fouls.
As time went on, Tampa Bay began to dominate possession and kept the ball in Atlanta's half with the Silverbacks remaining dangerous on the counterattack. Atlanta's first major chance of the game, also happened to be its first goal. In the 27th minute, midfielder Junior Burgos drove down the center of the pitch and drilled a shot into the corner of goalkeeper Matt Pickens' goal from about 30 yards out. He was assisted by captain Blair Gavin.
The Rowdies tried to respond quickly as forward Georgi Hristov saw his shot narrowly miss the crossbar just after the restart. Atlanta's goal proved to be a turning point, as it saw the Silverbacks begin to get more possession of the ball.
Tampa Bay began trying to claw its way back into the game as Hristov saw his effort from close range deflect safely into Atlanta goalkeeper Derby Carrillo's hands. The Rowdies created another chance to equalize in the 40th minute when midfielder Blake Wagner sent a cross into Atlanta's box which Carrillo spilled to Darel Russell at the top of the box. Russell, however, drove his shot straight at the keeper.
Atlanta doubled their lead soon after in the 42nd minute when forward Deon McCaulay was played through on goal by midfielder Jesus Gonzalez. McCaulay slipped his shot under a charging Pickens.
Tampa Bay almost scored in stoppage time off of a Blake Wagner corner kick. The ball was curled to the back post to the head of defender Takuya Yamada, whose header beat the keeper, but was cleared off of the line by an Atlanta defender.
With the Rowdies down 2-0 at the break, the crowd of 3,896 applauded the team off the field.
“I’ve got to thank the fans for the way they support the team,” Hill said. “We’ve fallen behind at home again and they never give up on us. They never let the players get their head down. Through the effort of the fans, we were able to win. I’m so proud to be able to give the fans that win.”
The second half began as slowly as the first, with neither team really able to create anything offensively. The Rowdies halved Atlanta's lead in the 58th minute on their first chance of the half. Captain Frankie Sanfilippo was played into the box and played a cross on the ground in the direction of forward Casey Townsend. Carrillo managed to get down and stop the cross, but not catch it. Townsend closed in and poked the ball into the net before Carrillo or on of his defenders could react.
Rowdies defender Tamika Mkandawire was introduced in the 65th minute when he came on in for Takuya Yamada in his club debut.
The Rowdies continued their comeback in the 67th minute when yet another ball was crossed into the box. Shane Hill sent a header towards goal but once again Carrillo could not handle it. The ball bounced around the box some more before Hristov slotted a shot home.
Hristov's goal proved to be yet another turning point in the match. Tampa Bay continued to go forward in search of the go-ahead goal and gained some more possession. Forward Brian Shriver was brought the match for the Rowdies in the 78th minute for Wagner, which signaled a real intent to go ahead in the game.
Atlanta seemed content on absorbing Tampa Bay's pressure and then counterattacking whenever they got an opportunity. They stumbled across when of these opportunities in the 88th minute off of a goal kick. Carrillo hit the ball to substitute forward Alex Harlley who controlled the ball and beat two Rowdies defenders and firing a shot at Pickens. The veteran keeper was able to get down and parry the shot out for a corner.
Tampa Bay was inches away from pulling ahead in stoppage time when Hristov was played into the box. The Bulgarian wriggled past a defender before shooting to Carrillo's near post. The keeper saved the shot but conceded a corner in the process.
Substitute midfielder Evans Frimpong took the ensuing corner and curled a ball into the front post. An unmarked Hristov ran and met the ball with a diving header. The Bulgarian forward saw his brace completed in spectacular fashion as the crowd erupted.
Atlanta: Junior Burgos- 27th minute (assisted by Blair Gavin)
Atlanta: Deon McCaulay- 42nd minute (assisted by Jesus Gonzalez)
ROWDIES FALL TO ORLANDO CITY SC 3-2 IN SECOND LEG OF I-4 DERBY
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell to Orlando City SC 3-2 in the second leg of the I-4 Derby on Sunday night. The two sides fought out a well-contested match, but the home side could never really push ahead.
The first half started off slowly, similar to Friday night's match against Ft. Lauderdale, with both teams feeling each other out before committing numbers forward. Tampa Bay created the first good chance off of a corner in the 15th minute. Midfielder Blake Wagner curled a ball to the back post for forward Georgi Hristov who headed the ball back across the face of goal to force a goal-line clearance.
Orlando City's first chance of the game came after defender Luke Boden crossed a ball to an unmarked Corey Hertzog, who was not able to keep his volley from sailing over the crossbar.
Orlando City broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when Hertzog was played through on goal and crossed the ball to his strike-partner Kevin Molino who beat Rowdies goalkeeper Ryan Thompson from close range.
The Rowdies broke through just three minutes later when midfielder Darel Russell stole the ball from an Orlando City player and slotted it through for forward Georgi Hristov to finish. The reigning NASL Golden Ball Winner slid his shot into Orlando City keeper Carl Woszczynski's far post.
Orlando City took the lead once more when midfielder Darwin Ceren scored on a free kick from 20 yards out in the 43rd minute. Ceren curled his shot over the Rowdies wall and into the top corner of Thompson's net.
The second half started slowly as well, with neither side able to create any significant chances for the first ten minutes. Tampa Bay managed to score their second goal of the night when trialist Ricardo Morris played Hristov through on goal who slotted the ball past a charging Woszczynski for his second goal of the night. This was also Morris' second assist of the preseason.
Orlando regained the lead in the 75th minute when Hertzog got a goal of his own. The second half continued on in this way with neither side really creating or threatening the opposition goal.
The Rowdies slowly attempted to equalize without creating any major chances until the 90th minute when substitute Keith Savage dribbled past Woszczynski only to have an Orlando defender slide in to force the ball out for a corner.
Orlando: Kevin Molino - 32nd minute (Assisted by Corey Hertzog)
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 35th minute (Assisted by Darel Russell)
This morning, I received some very sad news, that former Rowdie Pedro DeBrito passed away today from injuries sustained in a car accident on Thursday July 3rd. My best wishes go out to Pedro's family and friends.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A pair of late goals by a few Luciano Olguin and Amani Walker lifted the Rowdies past the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-1 on Friday night at Al Lang Stadium.
Olguin, signed by the club this week, scored on his debut in the 88th minute, just before Walker, seeing his first action since tearing his ACL last year, scored a minute later to secure the victory. The Rowdies have never lost to the Strikers on the Fourth of July, with four wins and a draw in the modern era.
Playing on the new field at Al Lang Stadium for the first time, the match started slowly with few chances for either side in the opening fifteen minutes. The Rowdies managed to open the scoring in the 20th minute after forward Casey Townsend was played through impressively by trialist Ricardo Morris. Townsend was left one-on-one with the Strikers keeper and finished coolly with a low shot to the far post.
The Strikers equalized in the 36th minute through a Manny Gonzalez shot. Gonzalez got the ball at the top of the box and fired it past Rowdies goalkeeper Cody Mizell, who was able to push it onto the crossbar, but unable to keep it out of the net. The goal came slightly against the run of play as the Rowdies were gaining steam and continuing to threaten the Ft. Lauderdale goal.
The second half saw fewer chances than the first but a more even share of the possession. The Strikers looked more dangerous as time went on and forced Rowdies substitute goalkeeper Matt Pickens to make two great saves twenty minutes into the first half.
Olguin and Walker entered the match in the 63rd minute.
The Strikers saw more chances throughout the second half and were denied by the outstanding play of Matt Pickens. However, the Rowdies managed to pull ahead on one of their few chances of the half in the 88th minute. Midfielder Evans Frimpong ran down the right flank and crossed a ball to the far post for Olguin to finish his Rowdies debut in the perfect way.
Soon after, Walker sealed the win for the Rowdies with a goal in the 89th minute. Frimpong notched his second assist of the night as he crossed a ball into the box that got through several Strikers players before Walker could slot it home from the back post.