Thursday, 29 October 2015

Rowdies vs. Carolina Railhawks

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 24, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies took control of their own destiny in the playoff race Saturday night with an edgy 1-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks in front of 6,973 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
Tampa Bay’s win, paired with a 2-1 Indy Eleven win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers means that if the Rowdies win their season finale in New York next week, the Rowdies will qualify for The Championship, the North American Soccer League’s four-team playoffs. The Rowdies now lead the Strikers by one point in the Combined Standings.
Richard Menjivar scored the lone goal of the night in the 12th minute, firing a hard shot from distance to put Tampa Bay into the lead. The Rowdies were unable to add to their lead and faced a nervy final 20 minutes, but did enough to preserve the clean sheet and earn all three points.
“I’d like to say I was standing there cool, calm and collected, but I wasn’t,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said of the final stretch of the match, when Carolina was on the front foot and looked likely to score. “It’s nice to be here having won the game in that matter, rather than standing here wondering about the chances that we missed. I’ve got to give credit to the whole team defensively, not just the back four. They showed tonight how much this game meant to them.”
Carolina attackers Tiyi Shipalane and Nacho Novo had their fair chances at scoring throughout the match, but each time, a Rowdies defender put his body on the line to block the shot or deflect it or close the shooting window. Each time a shot made it through to goal, goalkeeper Matt Pickens made the save.
“We had plenty of chances and got unfortunate with their goalkeeper making some good saves, but we played a great game tonight all over the field,” Rowdies defender Ben Sweat said. “Everyone was defending well tonight, so that was a huge boost.”
Tampa Bay could’ve scored another goal or two of its own, with Maicon Santos, Darwin Espinal and Georgi Hristov all among those who could’ve scored on the night, but Menjivar’s lone goal was more than enough for the Rowdies.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Richard Menjivar - 12th minute

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; King, Menjivar, Chavez, Espinal; Adu (Saragosa 90'); Hristov (Santos 60')
Carolina: Gilstrap; Miller, Danso, Tobin, Low; Perez (Thompson 74'), Osaki (Catic 82'); Shipalane, Engel (Jackson 46'), da Luz; Novo

Monday, 19 October 2015

Rowdies vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

ATLANTA (October 17, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up a crucial road point in the race to The Championship on Saturday, earning a 0-0 draw against the Atlanta Silverbacks on a chilly night in Atlanta.
The result keeps the Rowdies in the race for the fourth and final berth in the NASL postseason, but Tampa Bay now trails the Fort Lauderdale Strikers by one point in the NASL Combined Standings following the Strikers’ 4-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night. FC Edmonton is now two points behind Tampa Bay after a 3-2 loss to Jacksonville Armada FC in Jacksonville.
“It’s a good away performance, but at the wrong time in our season,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We needed three points on the night, but if we performed like that in some of our previous road games this season, we wouldn’t be in the position of needing three points tonight.”
Genuine scoring chances were few and far between at Silverbacks Park, with both defensive units holding strong to earn a clean sheet.
Atlanta had the first great chance of the night in the ninth minute, with a free kick from 28 yards out that bent around the wall but was saved by Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens on a tremendous dive.
Tampa Bay nearly scored in the 16th minute when a Freddy Adu corner kick found Stefan Antonijevic, but his header missed the goal by a couple of inches.
In the second half, the match stretched out with both teams badly needing a win, but neither team was clinical enough to score a match-winner.  The Rowdies absorbed pressure for the first 20 minutes of the second half, including a series of three consecutive Silverbacks corner kicks, before coming back into the match later on.

Atlanta: Ceus; McKenzie, Mensing (c), Black; Kimura, Reed, Burgos (Mravec 22'), Mendes (Horth 87'), Porter; Chavez, Mendes (Bangura 76')
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; Hertzog (Michaud 90'), Chavez, Menjivar (Valimaa 82'), Adu; Shriver (Espinal 67'), Hristov

Friday, 16 October 2015

Rowdies vs. Ottawa Fury

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 10, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies will live to fight another day after pulling off a gutsy 1-1 draw against Ottawa Fury FC despite being reduced to 10 men in the second half.
Tom Heinemann had given Ottawa a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute with an unassisted goal and the Rowdies had to wait a long time to earn their equalizer, but were able to find a way in the end. Brian Shriver read a Freddy Adu chip over the defense perfectly, racing onto the ball and poking it past Ottawa goalkeeper Romuald Peiser to tie the match at 1-1 in the 88th minute.
“We wanted the three points, but even at halftime when we were 1-nil down, I believed that if we raised our level and raised our intensity that we were more than capable of getting a result,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “At halftime, I said no matter what happens in the second half, but me every ounce of energy you’ve got—do it for yourselves, do it for the fans and do it for the club. We were down to 10 men for about 15 minutes and you’d never have known it.”
The result keeps Tampa Bay in the thick of the race to The Championship, the NASL’s four-teams playoffs. Tampa Bay entered the night tied on points with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and FC Edmonton. Fort Lauderdale lost 2-1 in Minnesota to Minnesota United FC, moving the Rowdies one point ahead of the Strikers. FC Edmonton visits the New York Cosmos on Sunday afternoon.
“We wanted three points, but at the same time, any points at this point in the season going to help us to our goal of making the playoffs,” Shriver said. “We live to fight another day and we’ve got a humungous road game next weekend and we have to focus on that now.”
Heinemann’s goal was a beauty, collecting a ball with his back to goal just outside the corner of the box before spinning quickly and firing a shot low and just inside Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens’ right-hand post, but Tampa Bay’s goal was a masterclass in technique and touch.
Rowdies midfielder Darnell King had been sent off in the 77th minute after picking up his second yellow card of the evening, but Tampa Bay pushed hard until its moment of brilliance in the 88th minute.
With time on the ball and seeing space between Ottawa’s backline and Fury FC goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, Adu chipped a ball over the defenders for Shriver to run onto and poke beneath the goalkeeper who has kept 13 clean sheets this season to deny him a 14th.

Scoring Summary:
Ottawa - Tom Heinemann - 42nd minute
Rowdies - Brian Shriver - 88th minute (Assisted by Freddy Adu)

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Chavez; King, Guerra, Saragosa (c) (Valimaa 78'), Adu; Tan (Michaud 66'), Hristov (Shriver 75')
Ottawa: Peiser (c); Richter, Alves, Falvey, Trafford; Beckie, Guzman (Poltronieri 83'),  Ubiparipovic; Wiedeman (Junior 69'), Heinemann, Oliver (Haworth 75')

Rowdies vs. Minnesota United FC

BLAINE, Minn. -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell to Minnesota United FC 1-0 on Saturday Night in front of 8,932 at NSC Stadium.
After seeing his second yellow card of the match in the 41st minute, Rowdies defender Ben Sweat was sent off, leaving Tampa Bay with ten men. Minnesota forward Christian Ramirez would score the lone goal of the match in the 44th minute after a defensive miscue by the Rowdies.
The Rowdies began the match pressuring Minnesota United FC, which in turn created chances for the away team. Defender Darnell King had the first opportunity of the night just two minutes into the match. Forward Long Tan recovered a ball near the center circle and King bolted down the right flank. After a series of passes, King received the ball just inside the box and smashed his shot on goal. Minnesota goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock stood his ground and made a diving save to his left, sending the ball out for a corner kick.
Minnesota continued to hold possession of the ball but it was Rowdies defender Tamika Mkandawire who nearly netted the first goal of the match. A long-range shot by midfielder Richard Menjivar deflected off of a Rowdies player and fell to Mkandawire just inside the box. His header looped over Ndjock but missed the frame.
Despite Tampa Bay letting Minnesota control the ball in the first half, the Loons were unable to create any dangerous chances. It was a foul by Sweat that would change the course of the match. After stringing together several passes, Sweat saw himself forced to take down midfielder Alejando Vela just outside the box, which led to his second yellow of the match. The ensuing free kick went straight to Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens, but minutes later, Minnesota would score the lone goal of the match.
As the clock hit the 44th minute, midfielder Kevin Venegas whipped in a cross from the right side and caused a defensive miscommunication between Mkandawire and Pickens. The ball bounced past both Rowdies players and landed at the feet of Ramirez, who calmly tapped the ball in for his 11th goal of the season.
Entering the second half, midfielder Justin Chavez slotted into the left back position to cover the gap left by Sweat. Despite playing a man down, the Rowdies were able to contain a threatening Minnesota offense.
Tampa Bay struggled to create any chances, as the Rowdies' attacks would crumble before becoming dangerous. In the 59th minute, a series of passes by Minnesota ended with a fantastic dummy by Ramirez to leave midfielder Kalif Alhassan alone at the top of the box. His shot passed a stretching Pickens and fired off the post and crossed the face of the goal before being cleared.
Vela and midfielder Daniel Mendes would have back-to-back chances in the 65th minute, but Pickens saw himself positioned correctly to make two important saves to keep the Rowdies in the match.
After struggling to create any chances, Menjivar weaved his way through several defenders in the 67th minute and found himself with space just inside the 18-yard box. His shot however sailed over the crossbar, in what was the Rowdies' most dangerous chance of the half.
As the clock hit the 87th minute, the Rowdies were forced to send men forward in search of the equalizer. Mkandawire nearly made it 1-1, but his header was cleared off the line by midfielder Greg Jordan. Despite pressuring Minnesota in the final minutes, Tampa Bay was unable to find the much-needed goal.

Scoring Summary:
Minnesota: Christian Ramirez - 44th minute (assisted by Kevin Venegas)

Minnesota: Ndjock; Venegas, Pitchkolan (c), Calvano, Davis; Vicentini (Vela 20'), Ibson; Mendes, Jordan, Alhassan (Campos 79'); Ramirez 

Rowdies vs. Indy Eleven

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (September 30, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up another crucial point in the race for The Championship on Wednesday night with a 1-1 draw against the Indy Eleven at Al Lang Stadium.
The point pulls the Rowdies even with FC Edmonton on points in fourth place in the NASL Combined Standings, but the Rowdies trail the Eddies by four goals in goal difference. As things stand, the top four teams in the Combined Standings will qualify for The Championship, the NASL’s four-team playoffs.
A pair of first-time Rowdies starters gave the Rowdies a lead in the second half, with Freddy Adu finding Long Tan at the back post on a looping corner kick, but the lead was short-lived. Just four minutes later, Jaime Frias took a shot that Matt Pickens went left to save, only for the shot to be deflected back to his right.
“(Long Tan and Freddy Adu) made a positive impact on the match,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “I’m happy Long Tan got his goal. With a little bit of luck, he might have had two or three, but it wasn’t to be.”
The Rowdies started the match quickly and piled the pressure on Indy in the opening 15 minutes, with Tan nearly putting Tampa Bay ahead just six minutes in. An Adu cross found Tan in space, but his glancing header toward the back post went wide of the target.
In the 10th minute, Georgi Hristov played a low cross for Juan Guerra, who blasted a first-time shot that was saved by Eleven goalkeeper Keith Cardona.
Indy replied to that chance with a great one of its own, with a Dylan Mares shot hitting post after a Rowdies turnover. Indy’s Brian Brown nearly got to the rebound for another shot on goal, but Darnell King won a footrace and cleared the ball.
Tampa Bay’s next great chance came in the 35th minute when Brian Shriver won a free kick 23 yards out from goal. Adu’s shot cleared the wall, but curved wide of the post at the last moment, ensuring neither team would score before halftime.
Adu’s connection with Tan on a corner kick in the 63rd minute was his second assist of the season. It was Long Tan’s first goal for the Rowdies since 2010, having arrived on loan last week.
Indy’s goal was the result of a contentious free kick decision. Dane Richards took a shot on goal and went down from contact after the shot was off his foot. A free kick was awarded on the line of the 18-yard box. Erick Norales took the free kick, but it didn’t pass the wall. On the rebound, Frias tried a shot from about 28 yards out from goal that took at least one deflection before passing the wrong-footed Pickens.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Long Tan - 63rd minute (Assisted by Freddy Adu)
Indy Eleven: Jaime Frias - 67th minute 

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Balchan; Adu, Guerra, Menjivar, Shriver (Hertzog 60'); Tan, Hristov
Indy: Cardona; Franco, Miller, Norales (c), Frias (Stojkov 70'); Smart, Peña (Keller 85'), Steinberger, Lacroix; Mares, Brown (Richards 63')

Rowdies vs. Jacksonville Armada FC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (September 26, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ path to the playoffs hit another speed bump Saturday night with a 2-0 loss to the Jacksonville Armada FC at Community First Park at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
The Armada FC entered the match on a 498-minutes scoring drought, but goals from Lucas Scaglia and Pascal Millien, plus a clean sheet by Miguel Gallardo, saw Jacksonville take all three points from the match.
“We spoke before the game that we wanted consistency,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We don’t want to win a game, then lose, then draw, then win again and then lose again. I wanted us to win, and if we couldn’t win, then draw at worst.”
After a slow start to the match, the Rowdies turned the corner in the 15th minute and hammered the Armada for the majority of the half, sending attack after attack forward. In the 16th and 17th minutes, Jacksonville goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made reflex saves on shots by Darnell King and Brian Shriver, respectively.
Five minutes later, the Rowdies fired a series of shots that were blocked but not cleared, but Tampa Bay came just short of tapping in the loose ball.
Scaglia’s 34th minute goal came against the run of play when Millien passed from the right channel to Scaglia at the corner of the box. His first-timed shot went into the far side netting for a 1-0 Armada FC lead.
Looking for a quick response in the 39th minute, Shriver and King had back-to-back shots from point-blank range, but Gallardo provided an acrobatic double save to keep Tampa Bay off the scoreboard.
“We dominated a large spell in the first half and had lots of chances,” Campbell said. “It’s disappointing we couldn’t convert at least one of them. Gallardo probably feels he’s due a performance like that against us. He made three or four very, very nice saves. We’ve got to pick ourselves up now.”
The Armada FC doubled its lead in the 74th minute and Tampa Bay was unable to reply.

Scoring Summary:
Jacksonville: Lucas Scaglia - 34th minute (assisted by Pascal Millien)
Jacksonville: Pascal Millien - 74th minute

Jacksonville: Gallardo; Nicklaw,  Jerome, Bahner, Trejo; Perea, Scaglia; Millien (Krizanovic 90'), Castrillon (Barrett 66'), Johnson (Flores 80'); Keita (c)
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire, Sweat (Adu 77'); King, Guerra (Menjivar 77'), Saragosa (c), Hertzog (Tan 63'); Shriver, Hristov

Rowdies vs. San Antonio Scorpions

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (September 19, 2015) — Early adversity didn’t stop the Rowdies in their quest for a win Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium, where the Rowdies beat the visiting San Antonio Scorpions 2-0 in front of a lively crowd of 6,135 fans to take a huge step forward in the playoff race.
Rowdies goals in the third and ninth minutes were seemingly-incorrectly called offside to keep the match level through halftime. Corey Hertzog put the Rowdies ahead 1-0 in the 50th minute and Juan Guerra secured all three points for Tampa Bay with an insurance goal in the 88th minute.
Tampa Bay’s win, paired with a 2-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers loss to the Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday night, lifted the Rowdies back above Fort Lauderdale and into fourth place in the North American Soccer League Combined Standings, a position which would see them qualify for The Championship, the NASL’s four-team playoffs. Tampa Bay leads Fort Lauderdale by two points in the standings with seven games left.
The Rowdies started the match flying high and playing aggressive and confidently, but after having two goals waived off in the opening minutes of the match, San Antonio settled down and found its footing. Before long though, the Rowdies were piling the pressure on again.
“One of the phrases I used at halftime was strength and adversity,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We started the game as we liked, but we had two goals disallowed. It took the wind out of our sails, but we turned it around and dominated the game. Their goalkeeper made some very good saves and we’re happy to have taken all three points.”
With the rough patch behind them, the Rowdies moved forward in the match.
“It’s not easy when you score twice and they’re taken away,” Guerra said. “But this is what I love about our team. We have a lot of young players, but we’re very mature. We have guys that know how to manage their emotions well and that’s what we did. We stayed together, we waited for the spaces to open and when we had the opportunities to score, we did.”
Hertzog’s second goal of the season, on a penalty kick following a handball by Scorpions defender Zourab Tsiskaridze, gave the Rowdies a more-than-deserved lead just after halftime and forced San Antonio Head Alen Marcina to turn to his bench. The Scorpions abandoned their five-defender formation in favor of putting more forwards onto the field, but it failed to turn the match around.
In the minutes following the goal, Tampa Bay hammered the Scorpions net, but San Antonio goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes responded with save after save. He had eight saves on the night.
The win was secured late on with Guerra’s second goal of the season. Rowdies midfielder Darnell King took his defender on one-on-one before crossing to second-half substitute Darwin Espinal near the penalty spot. Espinal shot on target with his first touch, but Fernandes made the save and allowed a rebound. Guerra pounced on the rebound and scored to send Al Lang Stadium into a frenzied state.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 50th minute (Penalty Kick)
Rowdies: Juan Guerra - 88th minute

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire, Agbossoumonde, Sweat; King, Guerra, Saragosa (c), Hertzog (Espinal 88'); Hristov, Shriver (Menjivar 78')
San Antonio: Fernandes; Palacios, Attakora, Cann (c) (Hassli 75'), Tsiskaridze (Gentile 59'), DeRoux; Chavez, Gibson (Soto 87'), Castillo, Forbes; Cummings

Rowdies vs. FC Edmonton

EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ recent surge in form hit a stumbling block Sunday afternoon in Edmonton as Albert Watson’s first-half goal doomed the Rowdies to a 1-0 defeat.
The Rowdies entered the match in good form, coming off a dramatic 2-2 road draw in Ottawa against Fury FC and then a 2-0 home win over the New York Cosmos last week, but couldn’t get on the same page in Sunday’s match.
FC Edmonton captain Albert Watson scored the lone goal of the match in the 16th minute, redirecting a Dustin Corea corner kick to the far post, beyond the reach of a diving Matt Pickens.
Beyond conceding a goal to Edmonton, the Rowdies were poor in the first 30 minutes of the match, struggling to string passes together and maintain possession. Corey Hertzog had the first real scoring chance of the match in the ninth minute, first-timing a Georgi Hristov cross on target, but was denied by a nice Matt Van Oekel save. After the half-hour mark, Tampa Bay improved, but was unable to capitalize on any scoring chances.
“How we started the game wasn’t us,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We didn’t play with any intensity. We didn’t play with good tempo. We turned it around though and finished the half pretty well.”
After the halftime break, the Rowdies looked much better than FC Edmonton, dominating possession in the middle third of the field and defending well as a unit. Offensively, when the ball approached the final third, the movement started to break down.
Just before the hour mark, Hertzog played Shriver into space toward goal, but Shriver’s cutback cross from the byline was caught by Van Oekel.
In the 66th minute, Rowdies midfielder Juan Guerra came close to scoring, chipping a ball over Van Oekel with the outside of his boot, but it dipped only far enough to clatter the crossbar and preserve Edmonton’s lead.
Darwin Espinal, Martin Nunez and Zak Boggs all entered the match off the bench in the second half as the Rowdies threw attackers onto the field to try to find a way back into the match, but it was to no avail.

Scoring Summary:
Edmonton: Albert Watson - 16th minute (Assisted by Dustin Corea)

Edmonton: Van Oekel; Edward, Watson (c), Roberts, Zebie; Raudales (Grannito 78'); Cruz (Nyassi 71'), Corea, Laing, Smith; Fordyce (Jonke 81')
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire, Sweat; Hernandez (Espinal 61'), Guerra, Saragosa (c), Hertzog (Boggs 84'); Hristov, Shriver (Nuñez 68')

Monday, 7 September 2015

Rowdies vs. New York Cosmos

ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (September 5, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies gave themselves the best possible birthday present Saturday night, beating the rival New York Cosmos 2-0 in front of a frenzied crowd of 5,630 at Al Lang Stadium for Stuart Campbell’s first win as Rowdies head coach.
Goals on either side of halftime by Corey Hertzog in the 40th minute and Darwin Espinal in the 76th minute ensured that Tampa Bay would have plenty to celebrate. It was the third goal of the season for both players.
“It’s a very tough game because New York came in on a great run of form and they’re a great team with great players,” Campbell said. “We worked hard this week in training and the players have done everything the coaching staff has asked of them. They brought that onto the pitch tonight.”
The Rowdies had a large group of legendary former players on hand for a halftime celebration of the Tampa Bay’s inaugural season in 1975, but the result ensured the celebrations would continue all the way to and beyond the final whistle.
On the night, the Rowdies totally overpowered the Cosmos and could’ve won by a much larger margin. Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens was hardly called upon to make a save and the Rowdies squandered several chances to increase their lead in a dominant performance.
“I’d have been a bit more relaxed on the bench (if we had converted a couple more chances,)” Campbell said. “The Cosmos just keep going and they’ve scored so many late goals to get numerous points late on. 2-0 is a tricky scoreline and we kept creating chances, but couldn’t get the third goal. We’d have taken 2-0 before the game.”
After 15 good minutes by the Cosmos to open the match, Tampa Bay totally overpowered New York in handing it just its second loss of 2015. The Cosmos were shutout for just the fourth time all year.
The Rowdies had to wait until the 40th minute to pull ahead, when Georgi Hristov found space in the Cosmos’ 18-yard box to send a cross toward goal. Hertzog leapt high and put his right foot on the ball a few feet above the ground, gently guiding the ball past Jimmy Maurer in net for a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, the match was totally lopsided.
Hertzog should’ve scored again in the 50th minute, benefitting from a nice sequence of play in which Darnell King fed Hristov, who crossed to Hertzog. Hertzog took a few touches to beat the lone remaining defender, before firing a hard shot just wide of Maurer’s left-hand post.
Juan Guerra lobbed a ball over Maurer in the 58th minute, but it didn’t drop in time and hit the top of the crossbar.
Second-half substitute Darwin Espinal scored for the second consecutive week, receiving a cutback pass from Brian Shriver to put Tampa Bay up 2-0.
Hristov nearly put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute, when he beat Maurer with a shot, but it trickled inches wide of the far post. Shriver nearly tapped it in for the third goal, but didn’t reach the ball in time.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 40th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies: Darwin Espinal - 76th minute (Assisted by Brian Shriver)

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire, Agbossoumonde, Sweat; King, Guerra, Saragosa (c) (Chavez 77'), Hertzog (Espinal 63'); Hristov, Santos
New York: Maurer; Freeman (Restrepo 46'), Roversio (Caceres 25', Mendes (c), Ayoze; Senna (Moffat 73'), Szetela; Guenzatti, Raúl, Fernandes; Mkosana

Rowdies vs. Ottawa Fury FC

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA (August 29, 2015)—The Tampa Bay Rowdies showed some fight on the road, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 draw against the Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place on Saturday night.
Goals from Tamika Mkandawire in the first half and Darwin Espinal in the 87th minute earned the Rowdies a road point in first-place Ottawa’s stadium.
“They gave 100 percent and that’s all I want them to do,” Stuart Campbell said. “I don’t think there are many teams that could come from 2-nil down in Ottawa and nick a point. It’s a credit to the guys that I’m disappointed to just take one point from this match. When you’ve been on the run we’ve been on, you’re not going to win three- or four-nil, you have to turn things around step by step and this was a great step forward.”
Ottawa’s Paulo Junior put the hosts ahead in the 18th minute and Oliver doubled the lead in the 31st, but the Rowdies didn’t give. Tamika Mkandawire capitalized on a mad scramble in the box in the 33rd minute for a quick reply. Tampa Bay dominated the second half from start to finish, but had to wait nearly the full 45 minutes for its reward.
The Rowdies dominated possession in the second half and constantly threatened Ottawa’s net.
In the 52nd minute, Rowdies forward Maicon Santos received a through ball from Richard Menjivar and drew contact near the endline. The penalty shout was denied, but Santos still managed to put the ball toward the goal, only to be cleared from the near post.
Two minutes later, Santos blasted a shot from 27 yards out that looked goal-bound before bending wide at the last moment to miss by a few inches of Ottawa goalkeeper Romauld Peiser’s left-hand post.
Darwin Espinal and Brian Shriver both entered off the bench in the second half, increasing the pressure. In the 72nd minute, Espinal’s right-footed cross from the left side nearly connected with Santos for the game-tying goal, but again, the Rowdies came up just inches short.
With five minutes remaining in regulation, Hristov and Shriver performed a cheeky set piece that resulted in a Menjivar header being cleared off the line by Ottawa defender Colin Falvey.
Seconds later, Shriver perfectly placed a cross to the back post to an unmarked Hristov, but Peiser made the reflex save from point blank range on Hristov’s first-timed shot toward the roof of the net.
Finally, the pressure caused the Fury to break in the 87th minute.
After a Tampa Bay corner kick was partially cleared, Juan Guerra played the ball back into the box to towering Stefan Antonijevic, who nodded it over to Espinal for the shot through Peiser’s legs for the long-overdue equalizing goal, Espinal’s third of the season.

Scoring Summary:
Ottawa: Paulo Jr. - 18th minute
Ottawa: Oliver - 31st minute (Assisted by Tom Heinemann)
Rowdies: Tamika Mkandawire - 33rd minute (Assisted by Maicon Santos)
Rowdies: Darwin Espinal - 87th minute (Assisted by Stefan Antonijevic)

Ottawa: Peiser; Richter, Alves, Falvey, Trafford; Eustaquio, Ryan (c), Haworth; Albayrak (Oliver 17'), Heinemann (Hassan 73'), Paulo Jr. (Ubiparipovic 60')
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; King, Guerra, Menjivar, Hertzog (Espinal 67'); Hristov, Santos (Shriver 77')

Rowdies vs. Minnesota United FC

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (August 22, 2015) — Counterattacks doomed the Tampa Bay Rowdies to another defeat Saturday night as the Rowdies dropped a 3-1 decision to Minnesota United FC in front of 5,059 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
The Rowdies had taken a 1-0 lead midway through the first half on Juan Guerra’s first goal for the club, but Minnesota equalized through an Ibson goal in the 36th. After the break, the Rowdies dominated possession and pace of play, but were twice caught on a Loons break for goals by Justin Davis in the 65th minute and Daniel Mendes.
Minnesota’s third goal came in stoppage time when the Rowdies had numbers forward going for an equalizer. Tampa Bay left back Ben Sweat was in pursuit of the ball on the attack, but cramped on the play and last a step before resuming his chase. That step was all the time Minnesota needed to score.
The result sees Tampa Bay fall three points behind Minnesota, but remain in fourth place in the NASL Combined Standings with 26 points. If the playoffs began today, the Rowdies would play the New York Cosmos in the semifinals.
“I feel a bit unfortunate and disappointed that we got caught by two counterattacks in the second half,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It’s something we spoke about before the game and at halftime. We know Minnesota are very quick on the counter and they caught us twice.”
Overall, Campbell was pleased with the team in his first match in charge. Tampa Bay looked poised to score a goal or two in the second half, only to see the Loons take possession deep in their half and move forward quickly.
“I can’t fault the guys’ effort and commitment,” Campbell said. “It was great. We played some pretty decent stuff and we created enough opportunities to win the game, but it wasn’t our night tonight. I’d have liked to see us move the ball a little bit quicker, but I understand it’s our third game in (eight days,) so I’ll accept that they had heavy legs. If we got outplayed and lost, I’d be the first one to hold my hands up, but tonight, it’s a gutting feeling.”
Guerra’s 28th minute goal gave the Rowdies an early lead on Georgi Hristov’s NASL-high eighth assist of the season.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Juan Guerra - 28th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Minnesota: Ibson - 36th minute (Assisted by Kalif Alhassan)
Minnesota: Justin Davis - 66th minute (Assisted by Ibson)
Minnesota: Daniel Mendes - 90th minute (Assisted by Justin Davis)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Shriver, Guerra, Saragosa (c) (Menjivar 79'), Espinal (Nuñez 67'); Hristov, Santos (Hertzog 59')
Minnesota: Hildebrandt; Venegas, Calvano, Pitchkolan (c), Davis; Vicentini; Alhassan (Mendes 69'), Ibson, Jordan (Banks 89'), Yago (Gotsmanov 75'); Ramirez

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Rowdies vs. Indy Eleven

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 19, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Fall Season slump continued Wednesday night with a 2-0 loss to the Indy Eleven, but the Rowdies remain in position to qualify for The Championship, the NASL’s four-team playoffs, heading into Saturday’s home showdown against Minnesota United FC.
Tampa Bay and Minnesota are level on points with 26 each in the Combined Standings. Minnesota sits in third via a superior goal difference. The Rowdies sit in fourth.
Wednesday night against Indy, the Rowdies were playing on turf and conceded the first goal, both of which have been troubling circumstances for Tampa Bay this season in NASL play. Including the loss to Indy, Tampa Bay is 0-2-2 (W-T-L) on turf and 0-2-6 when conceding the first goal of the match.
After a scoreless first half, the Eleven’s Dane Richards opened the scoring on the hour mark with a low shot from a sharp angle past Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens and into the far side netting. Erick Norales doubled Indy’s lead 10 minutes later from a free kick.
“We’ve had a few games like this where neither goalkeeper is under intense pressure, but we come up short,” Rowdies Coach Thomas Rongen said. “It was like that in the Fort Lauderdale game where there were three goals in the game, but neither goalkeeper had to make a save for the rest of the match. At halftime, we talked about how an individual mistake could turn the game and that’s what happened to us on both goals. … It was a fairly even game at halftime and we had the power to get three points, but I have to give credit to Indy as well. We’ve become our own worst enemy and that needs to change.”
The Rowdies looked dangerous going forward at times, winning eight corners in the match, but weren’t clinical in the 18-yard box as they were kept off the scoresheet for the third time in the Fall Season. Gale Agbossoumonde, Darwin Espinal had the best chances of the night, from a corner kick and long throw-in, respectively, but the Rowdies couldn’t find the scoring touch.
Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen made six changes to his starting lineup from the team that had lost to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday and changed from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, but Tampa Bay didn’t find the winning combination.
Goalkeeper Matt Pickens made his first start since July 18; Rich Balchan and Richard Menjivar each made their first start since May 30; Justin Chavez made his first start since April 11; and Darwin Espinal returned to the starting lineup after missing three games on international duty.

Scoring Summary:
Indy: Dane Richards - 60th minute (Assisted by Daniel Keller)
Indy: Erick Norales - 70th minute

Indy: Nicht; Franco, Norales (c) (Janicki 85'), Miller, Hyland; Stojkov (Smart 72'), Keller, Lacroix, Steinberger; Rugg, Richards (Ceballos 81')
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire (c), Sweat; Shriver (Hernandez 70'), Chavez (Guerra 46'), Menjivar, Hertzog; Espinal, Santos (Hristov 74')

Rowdies vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (August 15, 2015)—The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Fall Season campaign hit another speed bump Saturday night as the Rowdies lost 2-1 to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium.
Fort Lauderdale took a lead in just the fourth minute of the night on a screamer of a goal scored from outside the 18-yard box by Stefano Pinho. James Marcelin scored the eventual game-winner in the 43rd minute after Maicon Santos had equalized for the Rowdies in the 19th minute.
“I felt we were a little better in the first half (than Fort Lauderdale,)” Rowdies coach Thomas Rongen said. “In the second half, neither team was really mustered anything going forward. We’re a little shorthanded with Stefan Antonijevic out, Freddy Adu out and Omar Salgado out, but that’s not an excuse. We have enough talent to do better than we did.”
Pinho’s spectacular strike in the fourth minute put the Rowdies behind the eight ball from the start. He took advantage of a turnover, took a few touches outside the box, before blasting a left-footed shot past Contofalsky for the opening goal.
The Rowdies fought back well, with Georgi Hristov collecting his NASL-best seventh assist of the season for Santos’s team-high seventh goal of the season. Hristov delivered a free kick from the right channel, to an unmarked Santos running across the near post to backheel past Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Josh Ford.
The final goal of the night also came off a dead ball situation. Walter Ramirez took a free kick from just outside the corner of the 18-yard box, shooting on target. Contofalsky made the initial save, but couldn’t control the rebound and Marcelin was in the right spot to poke it past Contofalsky and put the Strikers ahead for good.
Tampa Bay’s best chance to equalize came in the 54th minute, when a Hristov corner kick found Rowdies defender Gale Agbossoumonde. Agbossoumonde powered his header on target, but Ford was in the right spot to make the catch.
The loss sees Fort Lauderdale pull level in the Coastal Cup Standings, presented by Verizon. Both Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale have nine points each in the competition.
“I’m still trying to find the right chemistry for us to get clicking,” Rongen said. “We play a good game, then a so-so game, then a bad game, or we play two good games, two poor games and then a tie. We’re still in the overall race with a lot of games left.”

Scoring Summary:
Fort Lauderdale: Stefano Pinho - 4th minute
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 19th minute (assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Fort Lauderdale: James Marcelin - 43rd minute

Fort Lauderdale: Ford; Sanfilippo, Graye, Marcelin, Guerrero (c); Freitas, Thomas; Gabriel, PC, Ramirez (Frimpong 78'); Pinho (Nunes 80')
Rowdies: Čontofalský; King, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire, Sweat; Saragosa (c) (Boggs 79'), Guerra, Hristov; Shriver (Hernandez 68'), Santos, Núñez (Hertzog 73')

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Rowdies vs. Jacksonville Armada FC

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (August 8, 2015)—Maicon Santos and the Tampa Bay Rowdies put on a show Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium, picking up all three points in a tight 3-2 win over the Jacksonville Armada FC.
Santos scored two goals and assisted on the other as the Rowdies built a 3-0 lead over their new cross-state rivals in the Coastal Cup, presented by Verizon, before conceding two second-half goals to set up a nervy finish under considerable pressure from Jacksonville.”
“They didn’t make it easy on me and my heart,” Rowdies head coach Thomas Rongen. “We executed our gameplan very well. We didn’t change anything from our last game. We wanted to be compact and well organized with our block of six including Marcelo Saragosa, Juan Guerra and the back four.”
Santos, the Rowdies’ leading scorer with six goals this season, gave a hint at what would come with a goal in just the second minute of play, but it was waved off for offside. Just five minutes later, Santos scored a goal that counted.
Martín Núñez played a perfect through ball for Santos to collect behind the Armada’s defense. Santos took a few touches to round Jacksonville goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and score the first goal of the night.
Gallardo was bested again on Tampa Bay’s second goal, beaten to the ball by Santos all the way near the Rowdies bench. Gallardo could only watch from afar as Santos took on Jacksonville defenders before scoring his second of the night in the 32nd minute.
“The important thing was getting three points at home,” Santos said. “The whole team needed to get back to winning. We got the three points, so it was a very good game for us.”
Brian Shriver added a third Rowdies goal in the 50th minute, receiving a switch from Santos, taking one touch and then firing into the upper corner of the goal from 18 yards out to put Tampa Bay ahead 3-0.
“Maicon was able to spin his defender and once I saw him get into space, I took off and tried to be an option for him,” Shriver said. “He clipped the ball over to me, I took a good first touch. I wanted to hit it after the first touch, so I hit it on the half volley. I struck it clean and it felt really good.”
Up three goals, the Rowdies committed a pair of defensive errors to let Jacksonville back into the match. First, Alhassane Keita drew and converted a penalty in the 54th minute. In the 67th minute, Keita took a free kick that split the Rowdies wall and left goalkeeper Kamil Čontofalský exposed for another Jacksonville goal.
Santos nearly completed his hat trick in the 65th minute, when he rounded Gallardo again, but his shot was cleared off the line by a sliding defender.
The Armada’s comeback bid was dealt a blow in the 79th minute when defender Lucas Trejo was shown a straight red card and ejected from the match for a nasty tackle on Juan Guerra. Despite playing down a man for 15 minutes, including stoppage time, Jacksonville put pressure on Tampa Bay’s defense until the final whistle.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 7th minute (Assisted by Martin Nuñez)
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 32nd minute
Rowdies: Brian Shriver - 50th minute (Assisted by Maicon Santos)
Armada: Alhassane Keita - 53rd minute (Penalty Kick)
Armada: Alhassane Keita - 67th minute

Rowdies: Čontofalský; King, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire, Sweat; Saragosa (c), Guerra, Hristov; Shriver (Salgado 78'), Santos (Hertzog 73'), Núñez (Chavez 87')
Jacksonville: Gallardo (c); Gafa (Perea 63')) , Trejo, Ortiz, Toby (Rodriguez 63'); Castrillon, Scaglia, Barrett (Gebhard 82'); Millien, Keita (c), Johnson

Rowdies vs. Carolina Railhawks

CARY, N.C. (August 1, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies put an end to their losing streak Saturday night, grinding out a 1-1 draw against the Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park. The result keeps Tampa Bay above Carolina in the NASL Combined Standings and snaps a three-match pointless streak.
Tampa Bay held a brief lead in the first half after Georgi Hristov’s second goal of the night, scored in the 29th minute. Carolina equalized just three minutes later through Mark Anderson.
"In the end, it's probably a just result," Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "I'm disappointed that we gave up their goal. ... We had two or three other good scoring opportunities. Our goalkeeper (Kamil Contofalsy), didn't have to make many saves. Their goalkeeper had to come up big a couple of times."
Darnell King made an excellent play in the build-up to Tampa Bay’s goal, flashing his pace and running by both RailHawks defenders before firing a low cross into the heart of the box. Hristov first-timed it into the net to put the Rowdies ahead.
Carolina was the beneficiary of a little bit of chaos just three minutes later with the ball bouncing around in Tampa Bay’s six-yard box before Anderson quickly spun and fired his shot past Contofalsky for the goal.
Tampa Bay had a flurry of chances to break the deadlock and take all three points, but none came to fruition.
Corey Hertzog, celebrating his 25th birthday, had a chance in the 41st minute, but Carolina goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald made one of his three saves on the night, collecting the ball at the near post. In the 67th minute, Hertzog took RailHawks defender Wes Knight on one-on-one and beat him, but his shot was off target into the outside netting.
In the 72nd minute, Maicon Santos put his head on a Hristov corner kick, but directed it just inches wide of the far post.
Tampa Bay's best chance to score the winning goal came in the 78th minute when King took advantage of Carolina playing a high defensive line and sprinted in one-on-one against Fitzgerald. He shot quickly, but Fitzgerald got one quick hand on it to direct it off target and out of danger.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 29th minute (Assisted by Darnell King)
RailHawks: Mark Anderson - 32nd minute

RailHawks: Fitzgerald; Knight, Danso, Tobin (C), Low; Shipalane, Hlavaty (Nurse 82'),  da Luz, Anderson (Bracalello 72'); Albadawi; Novo (Nyepon 90')
Rowdies: Čontofalský; King, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire, Sweat; Guerra, Saragosa (C) (Chavez 87'), Hristov; Shriver, Santos, Hertzog

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Rowdies vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 25, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies nearly pulled off an unlikely comeback Saturday night, losing 3-1 to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in a result that tightened the race at the top of the NASL Combined and Coastal Cup standings.
Down 2-0 in second half stoppage time, Maicon Santos received a chip from Rowdies debutant Freddy Adu and scored to cut the deficit in half. Just minutes later, an Adu cross earned the Rowdies a corner that nearly leveled the match. Santos got a header on target from the corner, but it was directed straight to Strikers goalkeeper Josh Ford.
Moments later, Fort Lauderdale's Stefano Pinho scored on a counterattack to put the match out of reach at 3-1 deep in stoppage time.
The loss, paired with the New York Cosmos' 1-1 draw against the Indy Eleven on Saturday night, means the Rowdies and Cosmos are now tied atop the NASL Combined Standings with 22 points each, though New York has a game in hand. The Rowdies and Strikers are tied atop the Coastal Cup Standings with six points each.
"We have to score goals," Rowdies midfielder Georgi Hristov said. "We lost our third game in a row, but we have 16 more games. The season is really long. We've got to stick together. It's easy when you're winning, but when you lose, it comes down to character, friendship and respect. ... I can't even say we played bad, but we lost the game."
Fort Lauderdale's PC opened the scoring with a tap-in at the backpost just past the quarter hour mark of the match to put the Strikers ahead early. The Rowdies' scoring slump continued for much of the half and the Strikers' Bruno Nunes made them pay with a 78th minute goal to put Fort Lauderdale up 2-0 late in the match.
Freddy Adu, inserted in the 75th minute by Rowdies Coach Thomas Rongen, provided the spark that nearly keyed a late comeback. 
Apart from picking up the assist on Santos' goal, Adu had a couple of moments that put the Rowdies in a good position.
"We lost the game and we're disappointed about it," Adu said. "I'm personally disappointed about it, but it's sort of bittersweet because the reception was so awesome. Everytime I got close to the ball, the crowd was into it. ... It was nice to get the assist, but at the end of the day, the team lost. We've got to get better as a team and I've got to get better and work in with the rest of the guys."
Rongen made three changes to the starting lineup, inserting goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky (first match since April 25), Georgi Hristov (first start since May 30) and Maicon Santos (first start since May 30.)

Scoring Summary:
Strikers: PC - 16th minute (Assisted by Marlon Freitas)
Strikers: Bruno Nunes - 78th minute (Assisted by Evans Frimpong)
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 90+ minute (Assisted by Freddy Adu)
Strikers: Stefano Pinho - 90+ minute

Strikers: Ford; Sanfilippo, Kling, Smith, Guerrero (c); Marcelin, Freitas; Gabriel (Nunes 62'), PC (Frimpong 71'), Ramirez (Sanchez 84'); Pinho
Rowdies: Čontofalský; King (Adu 76'), Antonijevic (Agbossoumonde 40'), Mkandawire (c), Sweat; Guerra, Núñez, Hristov; Hernandez (Hertzog (60'), Santos, Espinal

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Rowdies vs. FC Edmonton

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 18, 2015) -- For the first time in the Thomas Rongen era, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have lost a match at Al Lang Stadium. FC Edmonton will depart as 1-0 winners, courtesy of a Stefan Antonijevic own goal in the 56th minute.
The Eddies had a corner kick in the 56th minute, which found Mallan Roberts' head at close range. Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens made a point-blank reaction save to deny Roberts, but the ball bounced directly to Antonijevic on the ground and caromed into the net to give the Eddies the decisive score.
"I haven't lost too many (like that,)" Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "You don't see that very often, it's not a play that happens anywhere in the world. We had a very good first half, but again, weren't able to put the team away. We have two or three good opportunities and don't capitalize it. We gave up a goal that could have been prevented."
Despite the loss, the Rowdies remain atop the NASL Combined Standings on 22 points, one ahead of the New York Cosmos in second place.
Tampa Bay dominated the first half possession and scoring chances, but couldn't find the finishing touch, finishing without a goal from the second consecutive match. The Rowdies could've opened the scoring just seven minutes into the match when midfielder Brian Shriver beat Eddie Edward one-on-one and got to the endline for a cross, but no Rowdies were available to tap it home.
Facing heavy pressure and tired from three matches in eight days, Edmonton sat deep in its own half to defend and Tampa Bay just couldn't find a way through.
The Eddies' goal, barely 10 minutes into the second half, lifted the visitors and gave them a second wind. 
"I did enough to get (Roberts) out of position and Matt made a great save, but the unfortunate happened," Antonijevic said of the only goal of the match. "It ricocheted off my face and into the goal. That's how soccer goes sometimes. You might be the better team on the field, statistically, but what matters is the end result. Today, we were the better team, but we didn't put away what we had to put away and they scored one and that's all they needed."
Tampa Bay's second half saw a flurry of chaotic scoring chances, but the only time the Rowdies actually found the back of the net, the goal was waived off due to offside.
Rowdies forward Maicon Santos appeared to have scored an equalizing goal in the 89th minute after a series of headers in the box, but he scored from an offside position and the goal was waived off.

Scoring Summary:
Edmonton: Mallan Roberts (56th minute)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; Guerra, Shriver (Hristov 61'), Núñez (Boggs 80'); Hernandez, Hertzog (Santos 61'), Espinal
FC Edmonton: Van Oekel; Moses, Watson (c), Roberts, Edward; Grannito; Nonni (Cruz 74'); de Freitas (Zebie 81'), Raudales, Smith; Jalali (Jonke 74')

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Rowdies vs. San Antonio Scorpions

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. (July 11, 2015) – The Tampa Bay Rowdies saw their eight game unbeaten run snapped Saturday night with a 3-0 loss to the San Antonio Scorpions. An early goal by midfielder Marvin Chavez and a brace from forward Omar Cummings gave the home side the victory.
Despite the result, the Rowdies remain first in the Combined NASL Standings.
"We need to bounce back after tonight's loss," said Head Coach Thomas Rongen. "We're still first in the combined standings so I know this team has the quality to get back on a winning streak."
A great start by the Rowdies featured two quick chances for the visiting team as both midfielder Brian Shriver and forward Darwin Espinal had opportunities to score the first goal of the match, though neither chance was converted.
An 11th minute Chavez put the home team ahead early. As the clock passed the 10th minute mark, Chavez received a ball from Cummings and cut inside to get by a Rowdies defender and create space. His shot curled past a diving Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens to conclude a perfect counter attack.
After going down 1-0, the Rowdies almost found the equalizer in the 16th minute as forward Corey Hertzog capitalized on a defensive mistake and went one-on-one with Scorpions goalkeeper Matt Cardone. Hertzog curled a shot as he entered the 18-yard box, but Cardone made a diving save to his left. 
As the Rowdies continued to try to find ways to score, Pickens denied Cummings in the 39th minute pn a shot from inside the 6-yard box. A perfectly executed counter attack left Cummings one-on-one with Pickens, with the Rowdies keeper going down fast to deny the forward the goal.
The second half started the same way as the first 45 minutes, with the Rowdies controlling possession and trying to create chances in the final third. Forward Robert Hernandez nearly tied it up in the 53rd minute after forcing Cardone to make a diving save to rob the Venezuelan the goal.
Despite controlling the ball, it was another counter attack that led to the Scorpions second goal of the night. In the 54th minute, Midfielder Billy Forbes beat defender Darnell King down the right side and fired a low cross into the 6-yard box. His perfectly placed cross found Cummings inside the box, who tapped it past Pickens to make it 2-0.
Minutes later, Cummings bagged his second of the night after receiving a through ball from midfielder Rafael Castillo and slotting his shot past Pickens.
With midfielder Georgi Hristov and forward Maicon Santos coming in off the bench, the Rowdies were able to create chances to cut the lead, but were unable to find the back of the net. In the 81st minute, Santos had a great individual run to send in a low cross into the box, but forward Zak Boggs skied his shot from six yards out. One minute later, it was Santos himself who had the chance, but Cardone dove to his right to keep the shutout alive.
"We look forward to playing in front of our amazing fans next Saturday," Rongen said. "We're unbeaten at home and I stressed to the team that it's important that it stays that way. Al Lang is a fortress for us and we enjoy playing there."

Scoring Summary:
San Antonio: Marvin Chavez - 11th minute (assisted by Omar Cummings)
San Antonio: Omar Cummings - 54th minute (assisted by Billy Forbes)
San Antonio: Omar Cummings - 61st minute (assisted by Rafael Castillo)

Scorpions: Cardone; DeRoux, Cann (c), James, Gibson; Forbes, Castillo, Nane, Chavez; Cummings (Hassli 81'), Elizondo (Soto 69')
Rowdies: Pickens; King, Antonijevic, Mkandawire (c), Sweat; Guerra, Shriver (Hristov 63'), Núñez; Hernandez (Santos 63'), Hertzog, Espinal (Boggs 78')

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Rowdies vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 4, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies started the 2015 North American Soccer League Fall Season the same way they ended the Spring Season three weeks earlier -- with a win over the Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium.
Each side benefitted from an own goal in the opening first half, but it was Darnell King's goal in the 30th minute that lifted the Rowdies to a 2-1 win over the Silverbacks on Saturday night in front of 7,002 fans in downtown St. Petersburg.
The win lifted the Rowdies into first place in the NASL Combined Standings, two points ahead of the New York Cosmos, who play the Indy Eleven on Sunday.
“We were superb in the first 30 minutes,” Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. “One of the goals was an own goal, but we would have scored that one anyway. … We’re still unbeaten at home. We’ve got five wins and a tie. That’s pretty darn good, obviously. I keep saying we’re only going to get better, which is nice to see.”
Tampa Bay's first goal came in the 22nd minute, when Rowdies forward Corey Hertzog took advantage of a Silverbacks turnover to race in on goal. He passed to Brian Shriver on his right, who took a touch to collect the ball before firing a shot on goal. Atlanta goalkeeper C.J. Cochran got a hand to it, but it seemed to still be heading toward goal when centerback Rauwshawn McKenzie tried to clear it, but committed an own goal in the process.
The Rowdies doubled the lead just eight minutes later when right back Darnell King scored his first goal in green and gold. After receiving the ball on the right, King cut inside to his left and fired near post past Cochran for a 2-0 lead.
“(It was) pretty cool,” Rongen said. “At practice, we work on crossing. As soon as he got the ball, we were thinking, ‘O.K., Darnell, take a touch and whip it in,’ and then he cut inside on his left and we thought, ‘oh no.’ But then he scored and we all thought, ‘Darnell, great decision.’ As coaches, what do we know?
Darnell, a Tampa native, who plays in front of a home crowd filled with family and friends, was more than willing to break the rules a little bit to give his team an advantage.
“(The instruction to send in a cross) came into my head, because that’s what they’ve been telling me,” King said. “But from the position I was in, inside the box, take that touch and put it on frame. It worked out this time.”
After going up 2-0 — and perhaps affected by the summer afternoon heat — the Rowdies took their foot off the pedal. Atlanta’s goal came in the 36th minute when Rowdies defender Stefan Antonijevic headed into his own net on a Silverbacks corner kick.
“(After the second goal,) we stopped playing,” Rongen said. “We’re a little young, a little naïve and we thought the game was over. … They’re all learning lessons, but it’s great to teach when you’re still winning games.”
The Rowdies had a handful of chances to extend their lead in the second half, but didn’t end up needing a third goal to pick up all three points.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Rauwshawn McKenzie - 22nd Minute (Own Goal)
Rowdies: Darnell King - 30th minute (Assisted by Corey Hertzog)
Atlanta: Stefan Antonijevic - 36th minute (Own Goal)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Antonijevic, Mkandawire (c), Sweat; Guerra, Shriver, Núñez (Chavez 82'); Hernandez (Hristov 68'), Hertzog, Espinal
Atlanta Silverbacks: Cochran; Christian (Bangura 89'), McKenzie, Mensing (c), Black; Porter (Oppong 82'), Hughes, Mravec, Okafor; Bangura (Sousa 61'), Horth

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Rowdies vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 13, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies ended the North American Soccer League Spring Season with a 3-0 win over the visiting Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday night.
Tampa Bay didn’t get the help it needed from Jacksonville Armada FC to win the Spring Season, but it will head into the midseason break with plenty of momentum thanks to their biggest win of the season. The Rowdies needed Jacksonville to beat the New York Cosmos to have a chance at overturning a goal differential deficit, but the Armada could only pull off a 3-3 draw. The Cosmos won the Spring Season with the result.
After a scoreless first half, a few slight tactical adjustments to help the pace of play by head coach Thomas Rongen helped Corey Hertzog, Martín Núñez and Georgi Hristov all score goals in the second half to lead the Rowdies to victory.
"We wanted to get into the break with a win," Rongen said. "Somewhere in the back of our minds, we talked if we could get to one, two, or three goals up and something happened in the (Cosmos) game, that would be great, but that was not our intent. Our intent was to get three points."
Atlanta nearly took a surprise lead in the 56th minute when Shaka Bangura took a shot from a sharp angle that hit both the crossbar and a goal post before caroming out of danger.
From there, the Rowdies utterly dominated the match.
Hertzog opened the scoring on the hour mark after brilliant individual work from Darwin Espinal to create the go-ahead moment. Espinal departs for international duty with the Honduras U-23 team Sunday, but not before receiving the ball and taking his defender on one-on-one and beating him to create space for Hertzog at the near post. Hertzog thrusted his chest to the ball and deflected it inside the post for his second goal of the season.
"All week, the coaches have been telling me to go to the near post," Hertzog said. "When I saw Darwin taking his man on, the first thing that came to my head was to get to the near post. He shot it at me and I just tried to get anything on it. ... I hadn't scored since the first game and I've been working so hard all season. It feels good to go into that break with confidence."
Núñez doubled the lead with a superb free kick in the 75th minute, lifting the ball over the Silverbacks wall and dropping it back underneath the crossbar in a perfect spot from about 22 yards out. It was Nunez's third goal of the season, tying him with Maicon Santos for the team lead.
The Silverbacks were reduced to 10 men after forward Jaime Chavez -- who entered the match in the 79th minute -- received yellow cards in the 85th and 86th minutes to earn a quick dismissal.
Second-half substitute Georgi Hristov scored the last goal of the night, converting a penalty kick in the 89th minute after winger Robert Hernandez was fouled in the 18-yard box by Atlanta captain Simon Mensing. Hristov has now scored in seven consecutive matches against the Silverbacks.
Tampa Bay's fourth clean sheet of the Spring ensure the Rowdies head into the break unbeaten at home and on a seven-match NASL unbeaten streak.
"We've worked very hard to keep clean sheets and look after each other on the pitch," center back Tamika Mkandawire said. "We defended as a team, starting from the front. We have a great set of guys and we work really hard on the training pitch with our coaches."
The Rowdies ended the Spring Season with 19 points, one shy of New York's 20. 

Scoring Summary
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 60th minute (Assisted by Darwin Espinal)
Rowdies: Martin Nuñez - 75th minute
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 89th minute (Penalty Kick)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Antonijevic (Chavez 73'), Mkandawire (c), Sweat; Guerra, Shriver, Núñez (Hristov 81'); Hernandez, Hertzog, Espinal (Michaud 90')
Atlanta Silverbacks: Ceus; Miller, McKenzie, Mensing (c), Black; Oppong; Reed, Denissen (Chavez 79'), Harlley (Porter 46'); Horth, Bangura (Okafor 68')

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Rowdies vs. FC Edmonton

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 6, 2015) -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies live to play another game following a vital 2-1 win over FC Edmonton at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.
A draw or loss would have eliminated the Rowdies from the race to win the NASL Spring Season title. Goals by Darwin Espinal and Brian Shriver in front of 4,961 fans ensured that the Rowdies head into next week's Spring finale with a chance at winning the title and clinching an automatic berth in The Championship, the NASL's four-team postseason tournament.
To win the Spring Season title next week, the Rowdies will need a little help. Tampa Bay must beat the Atlanta Silverbacks, Jacksonville Armada FC must beat the New York Cosmos and the Rowdies must erase their six-goal deficit in goal differential against the Cosmos.
"We can determine our own fate in terms of winning games," Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "We need a little help, I understand that. We set out to, in this home stretch of two games, get six points. We've got three now with another good team in Atlanta coming here next week. Let the chips fall where they may."
Severely shorthanded by suspensions, red cards and international duty, the Rowdies still selected an aggressive lineup. Tampa Bay was without five players that started last week's 2-2 draw against the Indy Eleven. Shriver and Gale Agbossoumonde each made their first start of the season, with midfielder Marquez Fernandez making his professional debut as a second-half susbsitute.
The front four of forwards Darwin Espinal, Corey Hertzog and Robert Hernandez, as well as Brian Shriver in midfield, put Edmonton's defense under heavy pressure all night.
"We connected really well," Espinal said. "We just understand each other and it was fun playing. It was the funnest group that I've ever played with. I enjoyed it a lot."
Espinal got the night started in the 37th minute, pouncing on a loose ball for his second goal of the season. Hertzog had fired a shot from the endline that was saved at the near post by Eddies goalkeeper John Smits, but Smits was unable to hold onto the ball, leaving it for Espinal to poke into the net from close range.
The Rowdies doubled their lead on the hour mark with Shriver scoring his first goal of the season. Hernandez won Tampa Bay a free kick outside the corner of the 18-yard box. Hertzog fired a shot on goal, which Smits punched to the arc at the top of the box, where Shriver collected and blasted the ball into the top corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
"I was having fun out there," Shriver said. "It was the first time I've gotten to play significant minutes in a game this year, so it was a chance to show what I can do. I saw the ball coming right to me, and I thought I needed to take a good first touch and get a clean shot off. I hit it nice and I was hoping it would get through the traffic. There were a lot of bodies in front of the net. Once it went through and hit the back of the net, it was a great feeling."
The two-goal advantage didn't last long, as Eddies midfielder Lance Laing expertly curled a ball past Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens into the far netting just four minutes later to cut the Rowdies lead to 2-1. 
Tampa Bay held on to its lead though and closed the match well to earn all three crucial points.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Darwin Espinal - 37th minute (unassisted)
Rowdies: Brian Shriver - 60th minute (unassisted)
FC Edmonton: Lance Laing - 64th minute (unassisted)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Agbossoumonde (Boggs 84'), Mkandawire (c), Sweat; Guerra, Shriver, Núñez (Chavez 71'); Hernandez (Fernandez 90'), Hertzog, Espinal
FC Edmonton: Smits; Edward, Roberts, Watson (c), Moses; Nyassi, Burt (Boakai 68'), Raudales (Granitto 71'), Jones, Laing; Jonke (Nonni 84')

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Rowdies vs. Indy Eleven

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 30, 2015) -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Indy Eleven tied 2-2 on Saturday night at Michael A. Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis. The Rowdies seemed poised for a win deep in stoppage time, but an Indy goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time saw the teams split the points.
Indy Eleven took the lead in the 22nd minute off a goal by midfielder Dylan Mares, but defender Rich Balchan would find the equalizer for Tampa Bay late in the first half, setting the stage for an unpredictable second half.
It seemed like the Rowdies would steal all three points after forward Maicon Santos scored the go-ahead goal for the Rowdies, but Indy Eleven defender Kyle Hyland had other plans. As the match entered the 98th minute, Hyland blasted a strike into the upper 90 to level the match at 2-2. The Rowdies finished the game playing with 8 men after three second half red cards.
The match was halted in the 22nd minute due to lightning in the area for two hours and three minutes. 
It was Indy Eleven that started on the right foot, creating most of the chances in the first couple minutes of the match. Despite Indy pushing numbers forward, the Rowdies defense was able to contain all attacks. That would change in the 22nd minute when midfielder Brian Brown layed off a pass to Mares, who placed his shot at the far post far away from Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
Immediately after the goal, the referee stopped the match due to lightning in the area. After a delay of two hours and three minutes, the teams came back onto the pitch to resume the match.
The Rowdies used the delay to regroup and come out stronger from the whistle. In the 28th minute forward Corey Hertzog had the first clear chance for the Rowdies, entering the 18-yard box and firing a shot just over the cross bar.
Just before the 40th minute, Balchan found space outside the 18-yard box and striked the ball towards Indy Eleven's goal. His shot deflected off defender Cory Miller and trickled into the net. This is Balchan's first goal with the Rowdies.
As the second half got underway, the Rowdies once again were under pressure by an Indy Eleven offense that wanted to regain the lead. Pickens made the first important save of the half in the 57th minute, when midfielder Victor Pineda curled his free kick on frame but the Rowdies keeper was there to push it wide of the net.
It was in the 68th minute when the Rowdies took the lead for the first time on the night. Midfielder Georgi Hristov serviced a perfect corner kick into the heart of the box finding a wide open Santos. The Brazilian redirected the cross with a beautiful header at the far post.
It wouldn't end well for Santos, as in the 73rd minute he would receive a red card for some extra curricular activities after a foul was called. As the Rowdies protected the one-goal lead, defender Stefan Antonijevic was issued a second yellow card and the ensuing red in the 89th minute.
In the dying moments of the match, Hyland found space from around 35 yards out and fired a shot into the top right corner of the net. Moments after the equalizer, the Rowdies were down to eight men as Hristov received a red card.

Scoring Summary:
Indy Eleven: Dylan Mares - 22nd minute (Assisted by Brian Brown)
Rowdies: Rich Balchan - 40th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 68th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Indy Eleven: Kyle Hyland - 90+8th minute

Indy Eleven: Nicht; Franco, Miller (Melgares 81'), Janicki (C), Hyland; Keller (Ring 34'); Stojkov (Wojcik 85'), Mares, Brown, Pineda; Rugg
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire (C), Antonijevic, Sweat; Guerra, Menjivar; Hristov; Hertzog (Hernandez 65', Agbossoumonde 90+'), Santos, Espinal (King 79')

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Rowdies vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 3rd Round)

PITTSBURGH, Penn. (May 27, 2015) -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies exited the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night after losing 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh. Riverhounds midfielder Rob Vincent scored the game-winning goal as the match entered stoppage time in the second half.
"You've got to give Pittsburgh a lot of credit," Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "They clearly deserved to win. It's pretty startling to me that we can play such a great game against Fort Lauderdale with the same Starting XI and such a mediocre game here. We're extremely disappointed, but we have to move on and learn from this."
From the start, Rowdies forward Martin Nuñez didn't have to wait much to get the first scoring opportunity of the match as it came just two minutes after the start.
Nuñez entered the 6-yard box and whipped a shot on net but it was Riverhounds goalkeeper Ryan Hulings who denied him the goal.
Minutes later, Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens was called to make his first save of the match, diving to his right to push a shot by midfielder Kevin Kerr out for a corner kick. 
After an early chance, it wasn't until the 19th minute that the Rowdies created danger in Pittsburgh's 18-yard box. Midfielder Georgi Hristov curled in a corner kick finding defender Stefan Antonijevic towering over the Riverhounds defense. His powerful header was cleared off the line by midfielder Stephen Okai leaving Nuñez a scoring chance off the rebound. Again, it was Hulings who denied the Uruguayan his goal that would put the Rowdies ahead.
Pittsburgh had several chances at the close of the half, including a series a passes that led up to a shot by Kerr that hit off the post in the 40th minute.
The home side continued its momentum in the second half, not allowing the Rowdies to create chances to score the go-ahead goal. The Riverhounds had back-to-back chances in the 52nd minute with Pickens first denying Vincent with a great diving save, followed by an Okai header that went just wide of the net.
Rowdies head coach Thomas Rongen tried to add energy into his squad with second-half substitute Darwin Espinal, but the Riverhounds controlled the Rowdies offense until the final whistle.
Pickens was tested once again in the 79th minute, when Kerr received a long ball from defender Willie Hunt and volleyed his shot on net. The Rowdies goalkeeper dove to his right and sent the shot out for a corner kick.
As the referee signaled three minutes of added time, Vincent sprinted past the Rowdies midfield and blasted a shot into the bottom left corner of the net. Pickens, who had denied the Riverhounds all night long, was unable to make the save that would have sent the match into extra time.

Scoring Summary:
Pittsburgh: Robert Vincent - 90+1 minute

Riverhounds: Hulings; Arena, Hunt, Pasher, Green; Kerr, Moloto (Flunder 90'), Okai, Vincent, Earls; Cabrilo (Virgara 67')
Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Saragosa (Espinal 46'), Menjivar, Hristov; Hernandez, Santos (Hertzog 63'), Nuñez