Monday, 7 September 2015

Rowdies vs. New York Cosmos

ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (September 5, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies gave themselves the best possible birthday present Saturday night, beating the rival New York Cosmos 2-0 in front of a frenzied crowd of 5,630 at Al Lang Stadium for Stuart Campbell’s first win as Rowdies head coach.
Goals on either side of halftime by Corey Hertzog in the 40th minute and Darwin Espinal in the 76th minute ensured that Tampa Bay would have plenty to celebrate. It was the third goal of the season for both players.
“It’s a very tough game because New York came in on a great run of form and they’re a great team with great players,” Campbell said. “We worked hard this week in training and the players have done everything the coaching staff has asked of them. They brought that onto the pitch tonight.”
The Rowdies had a large group of legendary former players on hand for a halftime celebration of the Tampa Bay’s inaugural season in 1975, but the result ensured the celebrations would continue all the way to and beyond the final whistle.
On the night, the Rowdies totally overpowered the Cosmos and could’ve won by a much larger margin. Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens was hardly called upon to make a save and the Rowdies squandered several chances to increase their lead in a dominant performance.
“I’d have been a bit more relaxed on the bench (if we had converted a couple more chances,)” Campbell said. “The Cosmos just keep going and they’ve scored so many late goals to get numerous points late on. 2-0 is a tricky scoreline and we kept creating chances, but couldn’t get the third goal. We’d have taken 2-0 before the game.”
After 15 good minutes by the Cosmos to open the match, Tampa Bay totally overpowered New York in handing it just its second loss of 2015. The Cosmos were shutout for just the fourth time all year.
The Rowdies had to wait until the 40th minute to pull ahead, when Georgi Hristov found space in the Cosmos’ 18-yard box to send a cross toward goal. Hertzog leapt high and put his right foot on the ball a few feet above the ground, gently guiding the ball past Jimmy Maurer in net for a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, the match was totally lopsided.
Hertzog should’ve scored again in the 50th minute, benefitting from a nice sequence of play in which Darnell King fed Hristov, who crossed to Hertzog. Hertzog took a few touches to beat the lone remaining defender, before firing a hard shot just wide of Maurer’s left-hand post.
Juan Guerra lobbed a ball over Maurer in the 58th minute, but it didn’t drop in time and hit the top of the crossbar.
Second-half substitute Darwin Espinal scored for the second consecutive week, receiving a cutback pass from Brian Shriver to put Tampa Bay up 2-0.
Hristov nearly put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute, when he beat Maurer with a shot, but it trickled inches wide of the far post. Shriver nearly tapped it in for the third goal, but didn’t reach the ball in time.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 40th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies: Darwin Espinal - 76th minute (Assisted by Brian Shriver)

Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire, Agbossoumonde, Sweat; King, Guerra, Saragosa (c) (Chavez 77'), Hertzog (Espinal 63'); Hristov, Santos
New York: Maurer; Freeman (Restrepo 46'), Roversio (Caceres 25', Mendes (c), Ayoze; Senna (Moffat 73'), Szetela; Guenzatti, Raúl, Fernandes; Mkosana

Rowdies vs. Ottawa Fury FC

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA (August 29, 2015)—The Tampa Bay Rowdies showed some fight on the road, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 draw against the Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place on Saturday night.
Goals from Tamika Mkandawire in the first half and Darwin Espinal in the 87th minute earned the Rowdies a road point in first-place Ottawa’s stadium.
“They gave 100 percent and that’s all I want them to do,” Stuart Campbell said. “I don’t think there are many teams that could come from 2-nil down in Ottawa and nick a point. It’s a credit to the guys that I’m disappointed to just take one point from this match. When you’ve been on the run we’ve been on, you’re not going to win three- or four-nil, you have to turn things around step by step and this was a great step forward.”
Ottawa’s Paulo Junior put the hosts ahead in the 18th minute and Oliver doubled the lead in the 31st, but the Rowdies didn’t give. Tamika Mkandawire capitalized on a mad scramble in the box in the 33rd minute for a quick reply. Tampa Bay dominated the second half from start to finish, but had to wait nearly the full 45 minutes for its reward.
The Rowdies dominated possession in the second half and constantly threatened Ottawa’s net.
In the 52nd minute, Rowdies forward Maicon Santos received a through ball from Richard Menjivar and drew contact near the endline. The penalty shout was denied, but Santos still managed to put the ball toward the goal, only to be cleared from the near post.
Two minutes later, Santos blasted a shot from 27 yards out that looked goal-bound before bending wide at the last moment to miss by a few inches of Ottawa goalkeeper Romauld Peiser’s left-hand post.
Darwin Espinal and Brian Shriver both entered off the bench in the second half, increasing the pressure. In the 72nd minute, Espinal’s right-footed cross from the left side nearly connected with Santos for the game-tying goal, but again, the Rowdies came up just inches short.
With five minutes remaining in regulation, Hristov and Shriver performed a cheeky set piece that resulted in a Menjivar header being cleared off the line by Ottawa defender Colin Falvey.
Seconds later, Shriver perfectly placed a cross to the back post to an unmarked Hristov, but Peiser made the reflex save from point blank range on Hristov’s first-timed shot toward the roof of the net.
Finally, the pressure caused the Fury to break in the 87th minute.
After a Tampa Bay corner kick was partially cleared, Juan Guerra played the ball back into the box to towering Stefan Antonijevic, who nodded it over to Espinal for the shot through Peiser’s legs for the long-overdue equalizing goal, Espinal’s third of the season.

Scoring Summary:
Ottawa: Paulo Jr. - 18th minute
Ottawa: Oliver - 31st minute (Assisted by Tom Heinemann)
Rowdies: Tamika Mkandawire - 33rd minute (Assisted by Maicon Santos)
Rowdies: Darwin Espinal - 87th minute (Assisted by Stefan Antonijevic)

Ottawa: Peiser; Richter, Alves, Falvey, Trafford; Eustaquio, Ryan (c), Haworth; Albayrak (Oliver 17'), Heinemann (Hassan 73'), Paulo Jr. (Ubiparipovic 60')
Rowdies: Pickens; Balchan, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; King, Guerra, Menjivar, Hertzog (Espinal 67'); Hristov, Santos (Shriver 77')

Rowdies vs. Minnesota United FC

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (August 22, 2015) — Counterattacks doomed the Tampa Bay Rowdies to another defeat Saturday night as the Rowdies dropped a 3-1 decision to Minnesota United FC in front of 5,059 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
The Rowdies had taken a 1-0 lead midway through the first half on Juan Guerra’s first goal for the club, but Minnesota equalized through an Ibson goal in the 36th. After the break, the Rowdies dominated possession and pace of play, but were twice caught on a Loons break for goals by Justin Davis in the 65th minute and Daniel Mendes.
Minnesota’s third goal came in stoppage time when the Rowdies had numbers forward going for an equalizer. Tampa Bay left back Ben Sweat was in pursuit of the ball on the attack, but cramped on the play and last a step before resuming his chase. That step was all the time Minnesota needed to score.
The result sees Tampa Bay fall three points behind Minnesota, but remain in fourth place in the NASL Combined Standings with 26 points. If the playoffs began today, the Rowdies would play the New York Cosmos in the semifinals.
“I feel a bit unfortunate and disappointed that we got caught by two counterattacks in the second half,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It’s something we spoke about before the game and at halftime. We know Minnesota are very quick on the counter and they caught us twice.”
Overall, Campbell was pleased with the team in his first match in charge. Tampa Bay looked poised to score a goal or two in the second half, only to see the Loons take possession deep in their half and move forward quickly.
“I can’t fault the guys’ effort and commitment,” Campbell said. “It was great. We played some pretty decent stuff and we created enough opportunities to win the game, but it wasn’t our night tonight. I’d have liked to see us move the ball a little bit quicker, but I understand it’s our third game in (eight days,) so I’ll accept that they had heavy legs. If we got outplayed and lost, I’d be the first one to hold my hands up, but tonight, it’s a gutting feeling.”
Guerra’s 28th minute goal gave the Rowdies an early lead on Georgi Hristov’s NASL-high eighth assist of the season.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Juan Guerra - 28th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Minnesota: Ibson - 36th minute (Assisted by Kalif Alhassan)
Minnesota: Justin Davis - 66th minute (Assisted by Ibson)
Minnesota: Daniel Mendes - 90th minute (Assisted by Justin Davis)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Shriver, Guerra, Saragosa (c) (Menjivar 79'), Espinal (Nuñez 67'); Hristov, Santos (Hertzog 59')
Minnesota: Hildebrandt; Venegas, Calvano, Pitchkolan (c), Davis; Vicentini; Alhassan (Mendes 69'), Ibson, Jordan (Banks 89'), Yago (Gotsmanov 75'); Ramirez