ESPINAL AND BOGGS SCORE IN 3-2 LOSS TO SPORTING LISBON B
ALCOCHETE, Portugal (March 4, 2015) — A late free kick goal scored in the final minutes by Sporting B doomed the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 3-2 loss Wednesday morning at Sporting Lisbon’s Academy. It was the Rowdies’ first loss in three preseason matches in Portugal.
Sporting B opened the match well, scoring just 12 minutes in on a nice piece of movement from the pacey right winger to get behind the Rowdies defensive line and create space for a shot, which he scored.
Sporting B is in midseason form, having already played 31 matches this year in the Segunda Liga, Portugal’s second division. The team currently sits in ninth place.
The Rowdies responded quickly though with committed team defense leading to offense. Sporting was awarded a throw-in deep in its own end and the Rowdies pinched in and put heavy pressure on the ball. Sporting turned it over and Tampa Bay’s Darwin Espinal received the ball with back to goal on the corner of the 18-yard box. Espinal spun and shot so quickly, Sporting’s goalkeeper was left flat-footed as he turned to watch the ball sail past him and into the far netting to tie up the matchin the 20th minute.
Tampa Bay’s starters continued to hold their own against Sporting before being replaced with a second unit of players on the hour mark. Chris Glodack, Ben Sweat and Espinal were the only players to play all 90 minutes.
Espinal nearly gave the Rowdies a lead in the 82nd minute, shooting hard on target and forcing Sporting’s goalkeeper to make a save. The goalkeeper was able to get a touch on the ball, but it popped high above him and appeared set to bounce over the line before a Sporting defender recovered to clear it away a yard in front of the goal line.
With the score still tied 1-1, Sporting once again took a lead in the 83rd minute on a cross from the right wing that found a friendly foot at the back post for a simple tap-in.
Still fighting hard for a result, the Rowdies didn’t have to wait long for the equalizer.
Zak Boggs tied the match just a minute later on an assist from Martin Nuñez in the 83rd minute. The goal looked very similar to one Keith Savage scored against Benfica U-20 on Tuesday, with Nuñez passing the ball from the byline back toward the penalty spot for Boggs to first-time past the goalkeeper.
It looked like the Rowdies would earn a draw until a Sporting free kick in the closing minutes bent around the wall and into the net to give Sporting a 3-2 win.
Rowdies Lineup: Glodack; Fernandez (King 60’), Mkandawire (Agbossoumonde 60’), Rusin (Antonijevic 60’), Sweat; Michaud (Nuñez 60’), Guerra (Saragosa 60’), Chavez (Savage 60’); Shriver (Boggs 60’), Espinal, Wuthrich* (Santos 60’)
* indicates trialist