Friday, 16 October 2015

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 

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