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')

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