Thursday, 9 July 2015

Rowdies vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 4, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies started the 2015 North American Soccer League Fall Season the same way they ended the Spring Season three weeks earlier -- with a win over the Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium.
Each side benefitted from an own goal in the opening first half, but it was Darnell King's goal in the 30th minute that lifted the Rowdies to a 2-1 win over the Silverbacks on Saturday night in front of 7,002 fans in downtown St. Petersburg.
The win lifted the Rowdies into first place in the NASL Combined Standings, two points ahead of the New York Cosmos, who play the Indy Eleven on Sunday.
“We were superb in the first 30 minutes,” Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. “One of the goals was an own goal, but we would have scored that one anyway. … We’re still unbeaten at home. We’ve got five wins and a tie. That’s pretty darn good, obviously. I keep saying we’re only going to get better, which is nice to see.”
Tampa Bay's first goal came in the 22nd minute, when Rowdies forward Corey Hertzog took advantage of a Silverbacks turnover to race in on goal. He passed to Brian Shriver on his right, who took a touch to collect the ball before firing a shot on goal. Atlanta goalkeeper C.J. Cochran got a hand to it, but it seemed to still be heading toward goal when centerback Rauwshawn McKenzie tried to clear it, but committed an own goal in the process.
The Rowdies doubled the lead just eight minutes later when right back Darnell King scored his first goal in green and gold. After receiving the ball on the right, King cut inside to his left and fired near post past Cochran for a 2-0 lead.
“(It was) pretty cool,” Rongen said. “At practice, we work on crossing. As soon as he got the ball, we were thinking, ‘O.K., Darnell, take a touch and whip it in,’ and then he cut inside on his left and we thought, ‘oh no.’ But then he scored and we all thought, ‘Darnell, great decision.’ As coaches, what do we know?
Darnell, a Tampa native, who plays in front of a home crowd filled with family and friends, was more than willing to break the rules a little bit to give his team an advantage.
“(The instruction to send in a cross) came into my head, because that’s what they’ve been telling me,” King said. “But from the position I was in, inside the box, take that touch and put it on frame. It worked out this time.”
After going up 2-0 — and perhaps affected by the summer afternoon heat — the Rowdies took their foot off the pedal. Atlanta’s goal came in the 36th minute when Rowdies defender Stefan Antonijevic headed into his own net on a Silverbacks corner kick.
“(After the second goal,) we stopped playing,” Rongen said. “We’re a little young, a little naïve and we thought the game was over. … They’re all learning lessons, but it’s great to teach when you’re still winning games.”
The Rowdies had a handful of chances to extend their lead in the second half, but didn’t end up needing a third goal to pick up all three points.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Rauwshawn McKenzie - 22nd Minute (Own Goal)
Rowdies: Darnell King - 30th minute (Assisted by Corey Hertzog)
Atlanta: Stefan Antonijevic - 36th minute (Own Goal)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Antonijevic, Mkandawire (c), Sweat; Guerra, Shriver, Núñez (Chavez 82'); Hernandez (Hristov 68'), Hertzog, Espinal
Atlanta Silverbacks: Cochran; Christian (Bangura 89'), McKenzie, Mensing (c), Black; Porter (Oppong 82'), Hughes, Mravec, Okafor; Bangura (Sousa 61'), Horth

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