Thursday, 29 October 2015

Rowdies vs. Carolina Railhawks

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 24, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies took control of their own destiny in the playoff race Saturday night with an edgy 1-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks in front of 6,973 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
Tampa Bay’s win, paired with a 2-1 Indy Eleven win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers means that if the Rowdies win their season finale in New York next week, the Rowdies will qualify for The Championship, the North American Soccer League’s four-team playoffs. The Rowdies now lead the Strikers by one point in the Combined Standings.
Richard Menjivar scored the lone goal of the night in the 12th minute, firing a hard shot from distance to put Tampa Bay into the lead. The Rowdies were unable to add to their lead and faced a nervy final 20 minutes, but did enough to preserve the clean sheet and earn all three points.
“I’d like to say I was standing there cool, calm and collected, but I wasn’t,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said of the final stretch of the match, when Carolina was on the front foot and looked likely to score. “It’s nice to be here having won the game in that matter, rather than standing here wondering about the chances that we missed. I’ve got to give credit to the whole team defensively, not just the back four. They showed tonight how much this game meant to them.”
Carolina attackers Tiyi Shipalane and Nacho Novo had their fair chances at scoring throughout the match, but each time, a Rowdies defender put his body on the line to block the shot or deflect it or close the shooting window. Each time a shot made it through to goal, goalkeeper Matt Pickens made the save.
“We had plenty of chances and got unfortunate with their goalkeeper making some good saves, but we played a great game tonight all over the field,” Rowdies defender Ben Sweat said. “Everyone was defending well tonight, so that was a huge boost.”
Tampa Bay could’ve scored another goal or two of its own, with Maicon Santos, Darwin Espinal and Georgi Hristov all among those who could’ve scored on the night, but Menjivar’s lone goal was more than enough for the Rowdies.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Richard Menjivar - 12th minute

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; King, Menjivar, Chavez, Espinal; Adu (Saragosa 90'); Hristov (Santos 60')
Carolina: Gilstrap; Miller, Danso, Tobin, Low; Perez (Thompson 74'), Osaki (Catic 82'); Shipalane, Engel (Jackson 46'), da Luz; Novo

Monday, 19 October 2015

Rowdies vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

ATLANTA (October 17, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up a crucial road point in the race to The Championship on Saturday, earning a 0-0 draw against the Atlanta Silverbacks on a chilly night in Atlanta.
The result keeps the Rowdies in the race for the fourth and final berth in the NASL postseason, but Tampa Bay now trails the Fort Lauderdale Strikers by one point in the NASL Combined Standings following the Strikers’ 4-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night. FC Edmonton is now two points behind Tampa Bay after a 3-2 loss to Jacksonville Armada FC in Jacksonville.
“It’s a good away performance, but at the wrong time in our season,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We needed three points on the night, but if we performed like that in some of our previous road games this season, we wouldn’t be in the position of needing three points tonight.”
Genuine scoring chances were few and far between at Silverbacks Park, with both defensive units holding strong to earn a clean sheet.
Atlanta had the first great chance of the night in the ninth minute, with a free kick from 28 yards out that bent around the wall but was saved by Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens on a tremendous dive.
Tampa Bay nearly scored in the 16th minute when a Freddy Adu corner kick found Stefan Antonijevic, but his header missed the goal by a couple of inches.
In the second half, the match stretched out with both teams badly needing a win, but neither team was clinical enough to score a match-winner.  The Rowdies absorbed pressure for the first 20 minutes of the second half, including a series of three consecutive Silverbacks corner kicks, before coming back into the match later on.

Atlanta: Ceus; McKenzie, Mensing (c), Black; Kimura, Reed, Burgos (Mravec 22'), Mendes (Horth 87'), Porter; Chavez, Mendes (Bangura 76')
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; Hertzog (Michaud 90'), Chavez, Menjivar (Valimaa 82'), Adu; Shriver (Espinal 67'), Hristov

Friday, 16 October 2015

Rowdies vs. Ottawa Fury

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 10, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies will live to fight another day after pulling off a gutsy 1-1 draw against Ottawa Fury FC despite being reduced to 10 men in the second half.
Tom Heinemann had given Ottawa a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute with an unassisted goal and the Rowdies had to wait a long time to earn their equalizer, but were able to find a way in the end. Brian Shriver read a Freddy Adu chip over the defense perfectly, racing onto the ball and poking it past Ottawa goalkeeper Romuald Peiser to tie the match at 1-1 in the 88th minute.
“We wanted the three points, but even at halftime when we were 1-nil down, I believed that if we raised our level and raised our intensity that we were more than capable of getting a result,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “At halftime, I said no matter what happens in the second half, but me every ounce of energy you’ve got—do it for yourselves, do it for the fans and do it for the club. We were down to 10 men for about 15 minutes and you’d never have known it.”
The result keeps Tampa Bay in the thick of the race to The Championship, the NASL’s four-teams playoffs. Tampa Bay entered the night tied on points with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and FC Edmonton. Fort Lauderdale lost 2-1 in Minnesota to Minnesota United FC, moving the Rowdies one point ahead of the Strikers. FC Edmonton visits the New York Cosmos on Sunday afternoon.
“We wanted three points, but at the same time, any points at this point in the season going to help us to our goal of making the playoffs,” Shriver said. “We live to fight another day and we’ve got a humungous road game next weekend and we have to focus on that now.”
Heinemann’s goal was a beauty, collecting a ball with his back to goal just outside the corner of the box before spinning quickly and firing a shot low and just inside Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens’ right-hand post, but Tampa Bay’s goal was a masterclass in technique and touch.
Rowdies midfielder Darnell King had been sent off in the 77th minute after picking up his second yellow card of the evening, but Tampa Bay pushed hard until its moment of brilliance in the 88th minute.
With time on the ball and seeing space between Ottawa’s backline and Fury FC goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, Adu chipped a ball over the defenders for Shriver to run onto and poke beneath the goalkeeper who has kept 13 clean sheets this season to deny him a 14th.

Scoring Summary:
Ottawa - Tom Heinemann - 42nd minute
Rowdies - Brian Shriver - 88th minute (Assisted by Freddy Adu)

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Chavez; King, Guerra, Saragosa (c) (Valimaa 78'), Adu; Tan (Michaud 66'), Hristov (Shriver 75')
Ottawa: Peiser (c); Richter, Alves, Falvey, Trafford; Beckie, Guzman (Poltronieri 83'),  Ubiparipovic; Wiedeman (Junior 69'), Heinemann, Oliver (Haworth 75')

Rowdies vs. Minnesota United FC

BLAINE, Minn. -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell to Minnesota United FC 1-0 on Saturday Night in front of 8,932 at NSC Stadium.
After seeing his second yellow card of the match in the 41st minute, Rowdies defender Ben Sweat was sent off, leaving Tampa Bay with ten men. Minnesota forward Christian Ramirez would score the lone goal of the match in the 44th minute after a defensive miscue by the Rowdies.
The Rowdies began the match pressuring Minnesota United FC, which in turn created chances for the away team. Defender Darnell King had the first opportunity of the night just two minutes into the match. Forward Long Tan recovered a ball near the center circle and King bolted down the right flank. After a series of passes, King received the ball just inside the box and smashed his shot on goal. Minnesota goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock stood his ground and made a diving save to his left, sending the ball out for a corner kick.
Minnesota continued to hold possession of the ball but it was Rowdies defender Tamika Mkandawire who nearly netted the first goal of the match. A long-range shot by midfielder Richard Menjivar deflected off of a Rowdies player and fell to Mkandawire just inside the box. His header looped over Ndjock but missed the frame.
Despite Tampa Bay letting Minnesota control the ball in the first half, the Loons were unable to create any dangerous chances. It was a foul by Sweat that would change the course of the match. After stringing together several passes, Sweat saw himself forced to take down midfielder Alejando Vela just outside the box, which led to his second yellow of the match. The ensuing free kick went straight to Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens, but minutes later, Minnesota would score the lone goal of the match.
As the clock hit the 44th minute, midfielder Kevin Venegas whipped in a cross from the right side and caused a defensive miscommunication between Mkandawire and Pickens. The ball bounced past both Rowdies players and landed at the feet of Ramirez, who calmly tapped the ball in for his 11th goal of the season.
Entering the second half, midfielder Justin Chavez slotted into the left back position to cover the gap left by Sweat. Despite playing a man down, the Rowdies were able to contain a threatening Minnesota offense.
Tampa Bay struggled to create any chances, as the Rowdies' attacks would crumble before becoming dangerous. In the 59th minute, a series of passes by Minnesota ended with a fantastic dummy by Ramirez to leave midfielder Kalif Alhassan alone at the top of the box. His shot passed a stretching Pickens and fired off the post and crossed the face of the goal before being cleared.
Vela and midfielder Daniel Mendes would have back-to-back chances in the 65th minute, but Pickens saw himself positioned correctly to make two important saves to keep the Rowdies in the match.
After struggling to create any chances, Menjivar weaved his way through several defenders in the 67th minute and found himself with space just inside the 18-yard box. His shot however sailed over the crossbar, in what was the Rowdies' most dangerous chance of the half.
As the clock hit the 87th minute, the Rowdies were forced to send men forward in search of the equalizer. Mkandawire nearly made it 1-1, but his header was cleared off the line by midfielder Greg Jordan. Despite pressuring Minnesota in the final minutes, Tampa Bay was unable to find the much-needed goal.

Scoring Summary:
Minnesota: Christian Ramirez - 44th minute (assisted by Kevin Venegas)

Minnesota: Ndjock; Venegas, Pitchkolan (c), Calvano, Davis; Vicentini (Vela 20'), Ibson; Mendes, Jordan, Alhassan (Campos 79'); Ramirez 

Rowdies vs. Indy Eleven

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (September 30, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up another crucial point in the race for The Championship on Wednesday night with a 1-1 draw against the Indy Eleven at Al Lang Stadium.
The point pulls the Rowdies even with FC Edmonton on points in fourth place in the NASL Combined Standings, but the Rowdies trail the Eddies by four goals in goal difference. As things stand, the top four teams in the Combined Standings will qualify for The Championship, the NASL’s four-team playoffs.
A pair of first-time Rowdies starters gave the Rowdies a lead in the second half, with Freddy Adu finding Long Tan at the back post on a looping corner kick, but the lead was short-lived. Just four minutes later, Jaime Frias took a shot that Matt Pickens went left to save, only for the shot to be deflected back to his right.
“(Long Tan and Freddy Adu) made a positive impact on the match,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “I’m happy Long Tan got his goal. With a little bit of luck, he might have had two or three, but it wasn’t to be.”
The Rowdies started the match quickly and piled the pressure on Indy in the opening 15 minutes, with Tan nearly putting Tampa Bay ahead just six minutes in. An Adu cross found Tan in space, but his glancing header toward the back post went wide of the target.
In the 10th minute, Georgi Hristov played a low cross for Juan Guerra, who blasted a first-time shot that was saved by Eleven goalkeeper Keith Cardona.
Indy replied to that chance with a great one of its own, with a Dylan Mares shot hitting post after a Rowdies turnover. Indy’s Brian Brown nearly got to the rebound for another shot on goal, but Darnell King won a footrace and cleared the ball.
Tampa Bay’s next great chance came in the 35th minute when Brian Shriver won a free kick 23 yards out from goal. Adu’s shot cleared the wall, but curved wide of the post at the last moment, ensuring neither team would score before halftime.
Adu’s connection with Tan on a corner kick in the 63rd minute was his second assist of the season. It was Long Tan’s first goal for the Rowdies since 2010, having arrived on loan last week.
Indy’s goal was the result of a contentious free kick decision. Dane Richards took a shot on goal and went down from contact after the shot was off his foot. A free kick was awarded on the line of the 18-yard box. Erick Norales took the free kick, but it didn’t pass the wall. On the rebound, Frias tried a shot from about 28 yards out from goal that took at least one deflection before passing the wrong-footed Pickens.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Long Tan - 63rd minute (Assisted by Freddy Adu)
Indy Eleven: Jaime Frias - 67th minute 

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Balchan; Adu, Guerra, Menjivar, Shriver (Hertzog 60'); Tan, Hristov
Indy: Cardona; Franco, Miller, Norales (c), Frias (Stojkov 70'); Smart, Peña (Keller 85'), Steinberger, Lacroix; Mares, Brown (Richards 63')

Rowdies vs. Jacksonville Armada FC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (September 26, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ path to the playoffs hit another speed bump Saturday night with a 2-0 loss to the Jacksonville Armada FC at Community First Park at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
The Armada FC entered the match on a 498-minutes scoring drought, but goals from Lucas Scaglia and Pascal Millien, plus a clean sheet by Miguel Gallardo, saw Jacksonville take all three points from the match.
“We spoke before the game that we wanted consistency,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We don’t want to win a game, then lose, then draw, then win again and then lose again. I wanted us to win, and if we couldn’t win, then draw at worst.”
After a slow start to the match, the Rowdies turned the corner in the 15th minute and hammered the Armada for the majority of the half, sending attack after attack forward. In the 16th and 17th minutes, Jacksonville goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made reflex saves on shots by Darnell King and Brian Shriver, respectively.
Five minutes later, the Rowdies fired a series of shots that were blocked but not cleared, but Tampa Bay came just short of tapping in the loose ball.
Scaglia’s 34th minute goal came against the run of play when Millien passed from the right channel to Scaglia at the corner of the box. His first-timed shot went into the far side netting for a 1-0 Armada FC lead.
Looking for a quick response in the 39th minute, Shriver and King had back-to-back shots from point-blank range, but Gallardo provided an acrobatic double save to keep Tampa Bay off the scoreboard.
“We dominated a large spell in the first half and had lots of chances,” Campbell said. “It’s disappointing we couldn’t convert at least one of them. Gallardo probably feels he’s due a performance like that against us. He made three or four very, very nice saves. We’ve got to pick ourselves up now.”
The Armada FC doubled its lead in the 74th minute and Tampa Bay was unable to reply.

Scoring Summary:
Jacksonville: Lucas Scaglia - 34th minute (assisted by Pascal Millien)
Jacksonville: Pascal Millien - 74th minute

Jacksonville: Gallardo; Nicklaw,  Jerome, Bahner, Trejo; Perea, Scaglia; Millien (Krizanovic 90'), Castrillon (Barrett 66'), Johnson (Flores 80'); Keita (c)
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire, Sweat (Adu 77'); King, Guerra (Menjivar 77'), Saragosa (c), Hertzog (Tan 63'); Shriver, Hristov

Rowdies vs. San Antonio Scorpions

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (September 19, 2015) — Early adversity didn’t stop the Rowdies in their quest for a win Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium, where the Rowdies beat the visiting San Antonio Scorpions 2-0 in front of a lively crowd of 6,135 fans to take a huge step forward in the playoff race.
Rowdies goals in the third and ninth minutes were seemingly-incorrectly called offside to keep the match level through halftime. Corey Hertzog put the Rowdies ahead 1-0 in the 50th minute and Juan Guerra secured all three points for Tampa Bay with an insurance goal in the 88th minute.
Tampa Bay’s win, paired with a 2-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers loss to the Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday night, lifted the Rowdies back above Fort Lauderdale and into fourth place in the North American Soccer League Combined Standings, a position which would see them qualify for The Championship, the NASL’s four-team playoffs. Tampa Bay leads Fort Lauderdale by two points in the standings with seven games left.
The Rowdies started the match flying high and playing aggressive and confidently, but after having two goals waived off in the opening minutes of the match, San Antonio settled down and found its footing. Before long though, the Rowdies were piling the pressure on again.
“One of the phrases I used at halftime was strength and adversity,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We started the game as we liked, but we had two goals disallowed. It took the wind out of our sails, but we turned it around and dominated the game. Their goalkeeper made some very good saves and we’re happy to have taken all three points.”
With the rough patch behind them, the Rowdies moved forward in the match.
“It’s not easy when you score twice and they’re taken away,” Guerra said. “But this is what I love about our team. We have a lot of young players, but we’re very mature. We have guys that know how to manage their emotions well and that’s what we did. We stayed together, we waited for the spaces to open and when we had the opportunities to score, we did.”
Hertzog’s second goal of the season, on a penalty kick following a handball by Scorpions defender Zourab Tsiskaridze, gave the Rowdies a more-than-deserved lead just after halftime and forced San Antonio Head Alen Marcina to turn to his bench. The Scorpions abandoned their five-defender formation in favor of putting more forwards onto the field, but it failed to turn the match around.
In the minutes following the goal, Tampa Bay hammered the Scorpions net, but San Antonio goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes responded with save after save. He had eight saves on the night.
The win was secured late on with Guerra’s second goal of the season. Rowdies midfielder Darnell King took his defender on one-on-one before crossing to second-half substitute Darwin Espinal near the penalty spot. Espinal shot on target with his first touch, but Fernandes made the save and allowed a rebound. Guerra pounced on the rebound and scored to send Al Lang Stadium into a frenzied state.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 50th minute (Penalty Kick)
Rowdies: Juan Guerra - 88th minute

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire, Agbossoumonde, Sweat; King, Guerra, Saragosa (c), Hertzog (Espinal 88'); Hristov, Shriver (Menjivar 78')
San Antonio: Fernandes; Palacios, Attakora, Cann (c) (Hassli 75'), Tsiskaridze (Gentile 59'), DeRoux; Chavez, Gibson (Soto 87'), Castillo, Forbes; Cummings

Rowdies vs. FC Edmonton

EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ recent surge in form hit a stumbling block Sunday afternoon in Edmonton as Albert Watson’s first-half goal doomed the Rowdies to a 1-0 defeat.
The Rowdies entered the match in good form, coming off a dramatic 2-2 road draw in Ottawa against Fury FC and then a 2-0 home win over the New York Cosmos last week, but couldn’t get on the same page in Sunday’s match.
FC Edmonton captain Albert Watson scored the lone goal of the match in the 16th minute, redirecting a Dustin Corea corner kick to the far post, beyond the reach of a diving Matt Pickens.
Beyond conceding a goal to Edmonton, the Rowdies were poor in the first 30 minutes of the match, struggling to string passes together and maintain possession. Corey Hertzog had the first real scoring chance of the match in the ninth minute, first-timing a Georgi Hristov cross on target, but was denied by a nice Matt Van Oekel save. After the half-hour mark, Tampa Bay improved, but was unable to capitalize on any scoring chances.
“How we started the game wasn’t us,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We didn’t play with any intensity. We didn’t play with good tempo. We turned it around though and finished the half pretty well.”
After the halftime break, the Rowdies looked much better than FC Edmonton, dominating possession in the middle third of the field and defending well as a unit. Offensively, when the ball approached the final third, the movement started to break down.
Just before the hour mark, Hertzog played Shriver into space toward goal, but Shriver’s cutback cross from the byline was caught by Van Oekel.
In the 66th minute, Rowdies midfielder Juan Guerra came close to scoring, chipping a ball over Van Oekel with the outside of his boot, but it dipped only far enough to clatter the crossbar and preserve Edmonton’s lead.
Darwin Espinal, Martin Nunez and Zak Boggs all entered the match off the bench in the second half as the Rowdies threw attackers onto the field to try to find a way back into the match, but it was to no avail.

Scoring Summary:
Edmonton: Albert Watson - 16th minute (Assisted by Dustin Corea)

Edmonton: Van Oekel; Edward, Watson (c), Roberts, Zebie; Raudales (Grannito 78'); Cruz (Nyassi 71'), Corea, Laing, Smith; Fordyce (Jonke 81')
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Agbossoumonde, Mkandawire, Sweat; Hernandez (Espinal 61'), Guerra, Saragosa (c), Hertzog (Boggs 84'); Hristov, Shriver (Nuñez 68')