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')

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