ROWDIES OPEN SEASON WITH 3-1 WIN OVER DEFENDING CHAMPIONS 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.
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