Sunday, 12 April 2015

Rowdies vs. Minnesota United FC

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 11, 2015)—The Tampa Bay Rowdies piled the pressure on Minnesota United FC on Saturday night, sending attack after attack forward, but couldn’t manage a goal and had to settle for a scoreless draw and a point in their home opener at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.
Playing in front of a soldout crowd of 7,010, the Rowdies didn’t start well, but found their way into the match and were the better team for long stretches, but just couldn’t put enough shots on target to beat Minnesota United goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock.
“The crowd was amazing,” Tampa Bay Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. “The guys just came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I’m sorry we couldn’t give the fans more.’ The house was rocking, the stadium was great. We’ll get wins at home. We’ll win much more than we lose. I think people will walk away saying we were a bit unlucky and worked hard.”
Rowdies forward Robert Hernandez wreaked havoc in the first half, receiving the ball and running at defenders from the right wing, but Tampa Bay’s communication and positioning was a touch off for most of the night. Many scoring threats broke down in Minnesota’s box before a shot could be taken.
“We didn’t play particularly well in the first half,” Rongen said. “That said, we had some good opportunities. In the second half, there were four or five occasions where the ball is bouncing around and we’ve got half chances, but we just couldn’t get to. We’re all disappointed that we couldn’t show the fans a few goals.”
After a scoreless first half, the Rowdies spent much of the second 45 minutes on the front foot, pressuring Minnesota’s defensive unit.
In the 48th minute, a Rowdies corner was cleared only to the edge of the box, where it landed at the feet of Corey Hertzog. Hertzog ripped a shot on target, but Ndjock, off his line near the penalty spot, made a reflex save to keep the Rowdies off the scoreboard.
Just after the 70th minute, it was second-half substitute Brian Shriver that hit side narrowly missed an open net.
Hertzog had one of the best scoring chances of the match, placing a header just inches wide of frame in the 89th minute off a pass from Martin Nunez.
“When you have a home opener and only get one point out of it, it’s frustrating,” Hertzog said. “I could have had two or three goals or made better decisions in the final third. That’s on me. As a team, the most important thing is that we kept them at zero and held strong.”
For now, it feels like the Rowdies dropped two points instead of picking up one, but Coach Rongen can still find positives in the result, particularly in keeping a clean sheet against one of the NASL’s best attacks.
“I thought it was a good game,” Rongen said. “Minnesota, in fairness, is a very good team. We kept it at zero, which was important for us. I’m pleased with the performance, but not happy with the result. We deserved three points.”

Rowdies: Čontofalský; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Portillos; Saragosa (c) (Valimaa 76'), Chavez, Hristov; Hernandez (Nuñez 72'), Espinal (Shriver 60'), Hertzog
Minnesota United FC: Ndjock; Venegas, Calvano, Dias, Davis; Ibson, Pitchkolan, Mendes (Jordan 76'), Ibarra, Steele (Watson 86'); Ramirez (PCampos 77')

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Rowdies vs. San Antonio Scorpions

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. (April 4, 2015) – The San Antonio Scorpions threw a party at Toyota Field on Saturday night to celebrate their 2014 NASL Championship Final victory. Rings were given out and a championship flag was raised above the stadium.
Then the Rowdies left the visiting team locker room.
Once the whistle blew, it was the Rowdies throwing the party, powering to a 3-1 victory over the defending champions and starting their NASL campaign with three points.
Tampa Bay’s Stefan Antonijevic, Darwin Espinal and Corey Hertzog all scored in the comprehensive victory. San Antonio’s Omar Cummings scored in second-half stoppage time, long after the match had been decided.
Quick on the attack with an aggressive start, the Rowdies needed only 10 minutes to open the scoring and quiet the crowd of 6,723. Georgi Hristov’s perfectly-placed corner kick found the head of 6-foot-6 Antonijevic, who powered it past San Antonio’s Jon Kempin in net for Tampa Bay’s first goal of the season and an early 1-0 lead.
The Scorpions recovered and found their way back into the match after falling behind. San Antonio, led by midfielder Rafael Castillo, had several chances to score their first goal of the match, but a strong Rowdies defense would keep the score 1-0.
San Antonio nearly got out of the first half down only one goal, but Rowdies forward Darwin Espinal marked his professional debut with a goal in first half stoppage time to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room.
Defender Darnell King made a speedy run down the right flank and into the box. After his cross was initially denied by a Scorpions defender, King slotted the rebound back to Espinal, who calmly placed his shot past Kempin to double the lead.
Desperate to turn the match around, San Antonio came out of the halftime break as the better side early in the second half.
Fifty-five minutes into the match, midfielder Marvin Chavez came very close to scoring the Scorpions’ first goal as his shot fired off the crossbar and out for a goal kick. Minutes later, Antonijevic came up big for the Rowdies blocking a shot inside the 18-yard box that was heading toward goal.
As the Scorpions continued to apply the pressure, it was Hertzog that extended the Rowdies lead to 3-0 just past the hour mark. In the 61st minute, the Rowdies forward received a pass from midfielder Marcelo Saragosa and curled his shot around Kempin and into the far netting to increase Tampa Bay’s lead to three goals.
With the match winding down, the Scorpions were able to pull a goal back and prevent Tampa Bay from recording a clean sheet. Rowdies goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky had initially made a diving save on midfielder Castillo's shot, but Cummings was in the right place to score on the rebound.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Stefan Antonijevic - 10th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies: Darwin Espinal - 45+ minute (Assisted by Darnell King)
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 61st minute (Assisted by Marcelo Saragosa)
San Antonio: Omar Cummings - 90th minute

Scorpions: Kempin; Abdul-Salaam, Attakora, James, DeRoux; Castillo, Soto; Chavez, Forbes, Elizondo (Cruz 70'); Hassli (Cummings 67')
Rowdies: Čontofalský; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Portillos; Saragosa (c), Savage (Guerra 33'), Hristov; Hernandez (Boggs 69'), Espinal (Chavez 84'), Hertzog