Monday, 30 March 2015

Rowdies vs. Jacksonville Armada FC (Exhibition Game)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (March 28, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies appear ready to open the 2015 North American Soccer League season following a 2-0 road win over Jacksonville Armada FC at EverBank Field on Saturday evening.
Keith Savage and Brian Shriver scored on either side of the halftime break to beat the Armada and run Tampa Bay’s preseason record to 7-2-2. The Rowdies open the NASL Spring Season next Saturday night in San Antonio against the defending champion Scorpions.
The Rowdies yielded a lot of possession to Jacksonville throughout the match, content to bend but not break defensively and then spring forward when the chance presented itself.
Jacksonville only forced Rowdies goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky into one save in the opening 45 minutes.
In the 14th minute, Venezuelan winger Robert Hernandez flashed his speed and crossed a ball into the box for Maicon Santos, but the ball was just behind the big Brazilian forward and the chance went away.
Six minutes later, it was Santos crossing a ball in for Hernandez, but again the ball wasn’t quite perfect and Jacksonville was able to clear it away.
Santos very nearly broke the deadlock in the 26th minute, again off a cross by Hernandez, beating Sierra with his shot, but missing the far post by a matter of inches.
Savage scored his second goal of the preseason just before the halftime break when the Rowdies won a throw-in deep in Armada territory. Corey Hertzog delivered a long throw-in, which was glanced on by Stefan Antonijevic and straight to Savage a few yards out from the goal line. Savage tapped it past goalkeeper David Sierra and over the line to put Tampa Bay up 1-0 just before halftime.
Protecting a 1-0 lead in the second half, the Rowdies made mass substitutions and again seemed happy to let Jacksonville possess the ball and defend as a unit. Forward Brian Shriver’s entrance into the match immediately led the Rowdies doubling the lead.
Shriver checked in the 55th minute and scored with his first touch in the 58th minute, heading a perfect cross from Hernandez down and past Jacksonville goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. It was Shriver’s second goal in as many matches this week.
Now up 2-0, the Rowdies really worked on protecting a lead and closing out the match.
Jacksonville couldn’t break through and only recorded one shot in the second half.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Keith Savage - 43rd minute (assisted by Stefan Antonijevic)
Rowdies: Brian Shriver - 58th minute (assisted by Robert Hernandez)

Rowdies: Contofalsky; King (Fernandez 80'), Mkandawire (Michaud 87'), Antonijevic (Rusin 82'), Portillos (Sweat 63'); Saragosa (Guerra 61'), Savage (Chavez 75'), Hristov (Valimaa 59'); Hernandez (Nunez 62'), Santos (Espinal 43'), Hertzog (Shriver 55')

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Rowdies vs. FC Edmonton (Exhibition Game)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (March 25, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up their sixth win of the preseason Wednesday night, topping FC Edmonton 2-1 at Jacksonville University in the Armada FC Four-Team Challenge.
Both Rowdies goals, scored by Georgi Hristov and Brian Shriver, were direct results of working hard to win the ball back from defenders in front of the opposition net.
The Rowdies didn’t field a full-strength team and battled through a physically demanding first half. Five players were cautioned in the opening 45 minutes for rough play. Neither side carved out many clear-cut chances in the opening period and neither scored.
For both teams, it was their first test against NASL-level competition this preseason.
The second half was much more fluid and featured all three goals.
Justin Chavez helped the Rowdies to their first goal of the match, chasing down a ball in Edmonton’s box and earning a penalty kick. Eddies defender Marko Aleksic thought he was alone, jogging toward a ball to clear it, but Chavez was just behind him, and when Aleksic swung his leg to clear the ball, he instead kicked Chavez’s body to concede the penalty.
Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov scored the penalty high into Edmonton’s net for a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead in the 65th minute.
The Rowdies ran into trouble in the 74th minute, when Edmonton played a long ball forward and caught Gale Agbossoumonde in a tough position. As he recovered, Agbossoumonde made too much contact with FCE’s Frank Jonke, conceding a penalty.
Eddies captain Ritchie Jones stepped up to take the penalty, but Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens guessed right and saved it to preserve Tampa Bay’s lead.
Just a minute later, Sadi Jalali got into space to take another shot on goal, but again, Pickens was in the right spot to make the save.
In the 84th minute, more pressure from the Rowdies forwards forced an error in Edmonton’s defense.
Tampa Bay forward Darwin Espinal put heavy pressure on the Eddies and intercepted a pass between defenders 30 yards from goal. Espinal squared a ball into empty space for Brian Shriver to run onto. Shriver took a couple of touches before slotting it past John Smits in net to put the Rowdies up 2-0.
The Rowdies were just minutes from keeping a clean sheet, but a Lance Laing free kick in stoppage time found Jonke for a header past Pickens and into the net.

Scoring Summary: 
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 65th minute (Penalty Kick)
Rowdies: Brian Shriver - 84th minute
FC Edmonton: Frank Jonke - 91st minute

Rowdies: Pickens (C); King (Boggs 46'), Rusin, Agbossoumonde, Sweat; Chavez, Guerra, Nuñez; Shriver, Michaud (Hristov 61'), Hernandez (Espinal 46')
Edmonton: VanOekel (Smits 61'); Edward (Smith 87'), Moses (Roberts 87'), Roberts (Aleksic 61'), Smith (Zebie 61'); Raudales, Hauksson (Burt 61'), Jones, Fordyce (Sadi 61'), Laing; Ameobi (Jonke 61')

Monday, 23 March 2015

Rowdies vs. University of South Florida Bulls (Exhibition Game)

TAMPA, Fla. (March 21, 2015) — For the second time this week, the Tampa Bay Rowdies picked up a 4-1 preseason win over local college competition, topping the University of South Florida Bulls at Corbett Stadium on Saturday night.
With 14 days left in the preseason, the Rowdies are now 5-2-2 this preseason. The Rowdies topped the University of Tampa 4-1 on Wednesday night. Tampa Bay has two matches left before the season opener against the San Antonio Scorpions in Texas on April 4.
Maicon Santos, Corey Hertzog and Martin Nuñez all scored for the Rowdies. Tampa Bay also benefitted from a Bulls own goal in the first half. Brendan Hines-Ike converted a second-half penalty kick to put the Bulls on the board.
The Rowdies got off to a flying start, with Santos scoring a tap-in just three minutes into the match. The big Brazilian forward stole the ball off a USF defender, calmly rounded the keeper and passed the ball into the net for the opening goal. Santos has now scored goals in four consecutive matches for the Rowdies.
Tampa Bay stayed on the front foot, taking the match to the Bulls and forcing USF to defend for much of the first half. Trialist midfielder Verneri Valimaa raced to the byline and slotted a pass back across the face of goal, where a Bulls defender accidentally put it into his own net to put the Rowdies up 2-0 in the 13th minute.
Two minutes before halftime, Hertzog added a goal on an assist by Darnell King. Hertzog has now scored in back-to-back matches.
In the 62nd minute, Hines-Ike converted his penalty kick to cut the deficit to 3-1, but the Rowdies weren’t done shooting yet.
Less than 10 minutes later, second-half substitute Nuñez bent a free kick around the USF defensive wall and into the net for a 4-1 lead in the 71st minute.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 3rd minute (unassisted)
Rowdies: Own Goal - 18th minute
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 43rd minute (assisted by Darnell King)
USF: Brendan Hines-Ike - 62nd minute (penalty kick)
Rowdies: Martin Nuñez  - 62nd minute (unassisted)

Rowdies: Contofalsky; King (Fernandez 82'), Mkandawire (Agbossoumonde 71'), Antonijevic (Rusin 82'), Sweat; Savage (Guerra 71'), Valimaa* (Chavez 77'), Espinal (Nuñez 46'); Boggs  (Shriver 71'), Santos, Hertzog (Michaud 71')
*indicates trialist

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Rowdies vs. University of Tampa Spartans (Exhibition Game)

TAMPA, Fla. (March 18, 2015)  —  Patient and controlled team play helped the Tampa Bay Rowdies top the University of Tampa Spartans 4-1 on Wednesday night as preparations for the 2015 North American Soccer League season continued.
Maicon Santos grabbed a pair of first-half goals — including a stunning lob from 40 yards out — and  Corey Hertzog and Jeffrey Michaud added tallies to earn the Rowdies their fourth win of the preseason campaign.
The Rowdies were patient all night, content to control the ball and move it around while searching for an entry toward goal.
Santos put Tampa Bay on the board first, rising to meet a Hertzog header off a corner kick in the 10th minute. It was his third consecutive match with a goal.
After playing provider on the first goal, Hertzog both earned and converted a penalty kick in the 18th minute, scoring low to the keeper’s right-hand side to put the Rowdies up 2-0 inside 20 minutes.
Santos grabbed his fourth goal of the preseason with an opportunistic strike in the 42nd minute. He received the ball just over the halfway line and spotted the Spartans keeper well off his line. Santos quickly lobbed an effort 40 yards over the keeper and into the net, drawing loud “oohs” from the crowd for a 3-0 lead.
The Spartans came back into the match in the 63rd minute, with forward Chris Campbell ripping the ball off a defender and placing a shot perfectly into the corner of the net.
The match seemed destined to end 3-1, but for a moment of magic from Jeff Michaud in stoppage time. The Rowdies rookie blasted a shot from the corner of the 18-yard box into the far netting to make the score 4-1.

Scoring summary:
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 10th minute (assisted by Corey Hertzog)
Rowdies: Corey Hertzog - 18th minute (penalty kick)
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 42nd minute (assisted by Rich Balchan)
UT: Chris Campbell - 63rd minute
Rowdies: Jeff Michaud - 90th minute (assisted by Martin Nuñez)

Rowdies First Half: Contofalsky; Balchan, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Portillos; Chavez, Savage, Espinal; Boggs, Santos, Hertzog
Rowdies Second Half: Pickens; Fernandez, Agbossoumonde, Rusin (c), Sweat; Valimaa*, Guerra, Nuñez; King, Shriver, Michaud
* Indicates trialist 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Rowdies vs. FC Montreal (Exhibition Game)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 13, 2015) — Maicon Santos earned the Tampa Bay Rowdies a 1-1 draw against FC Montreal in a closed-door scrimmage at Al Lang Stadium on Friday afternoon.
FC Montreal is the reserve side for Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact and competes in the USL.
The Rowdies started the match on the front foot, piling pressure on the visitors right away. Apart from an FC Montreal free kick in the 12th minute, the Rowdies had every scoring chance in the first 45 minutes. On the half hour mark, midfielder Jeff Michaud ripped a shot from outside the box that just climbed over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Corey Hertzog beat his defender and raced into the box, where he drew significant contact but was not awarded a penalty kick. On the ensuing corner kick, Stefan Antonijevic directed a header just wide of the near post.
Martin Nuñez hit the goalpost with a free kick late in the half, but the score was still even at 0-0 at the break.
Montreal’s Victor N’Diaye gave the away side a quick lead in the second half, capitalizing on a mistake in the Rowdies backline in the 46th minute.
Santos had a chance at pulling Tampa Bay level in the 54th minute, but sent his free kick from the corner of the box into the wall.
In the 68th minute, Santos made good on another chance, running onto a Keith Savage through ball and rounding the goalkeeper before finishing with his left foot to tie the match 1-1.
Tampa Bay had a couple chances at winning the match late on, but had to settle for a draw.

Rowdies vs. Alcanenense (Exhibition Game)

RIO MAIOR, Portugal (March 6, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies will be coming home Sunday from the preseason tour of Portugal with two wins, a loss and now a draw following Friday’s 1-1 deadlock against Alcanenense in Rio Maior.
Maicon Santos scored his first goal of the preseason in the first half, nodding home a Georgi Hristov corner kick with his head in the 15th minute. Alcanenense tied the match with a penalty kick in the 66th minute. Neither team would score again.
Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen selected a strong starting lineup for the match, picking an XI based on the best performers from the Rowdies’ first three matches in Portugal. Midfielder Marcelo Saragosa wore the captain’s armband.
The Rowdies started the match slowly, possessing the ball for long stretches but without a cutting edge to create viable scoring chances.
Hristov’s corner kick on the quarter hour mark broke the match open, with tall Brazilian forward Maicon Santos leaping to meet the ball with a glancing header toward the back post and beyond Alcanenense’s goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.
The Rowdies made four changes at the half and were forced into a fifth very quickly when Tamika Mkandawire clashed legs with another player and was withdrawn from the match for precautionary reasons. He is not expected to miss practice Saturday.
With the team undergoing changes, it took some time for the Rowdies to settle into the second half.
Young forward Darwin Espinal provided a consistent outlet down the right wing after halftime, creating numerous scoring chances with his speed. A couple of times, Espinal would beat his defender one-on-one, dribble into the box and cross for a teammate to shoot. JeffMichaud and Hristov each had scoring opportunities created by Espinal, but both sent their efforts just over the crossbar.
With the final whistle, the playing portion of the Rowdies’ tour of Portugal ended. The team has one full day left in Rio Maior before returning home to Tampa Bay on Sunday night.

Rowdies: Contofalsky; King (Chavez 46’), Mkandawire (Agbossoumonde 53’), Antonijevic (Rusin 46’), Sweat; Saragosa (c) (Guerra 74’), Savage (Michaud 46’), Hristov; Boggs (Nunez 46’), Santos (Shriver 70’), Espinal

Friday, 6 March 2015

Rowdies vs. Sporting Lisbon B (Exhibition Game)

ALCOCHETE, Portugal (March 4, 2015) — A late free kick goal scored in the final minutes by Sporting B doomed the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 3-2 loss Wednesday morning at Sporting Lisbon’s Academy. It was the Rowdies’ first loss in three preseason matches in Portugal.
Sporting B opened the match well, scoring just 12 minutes in on a nice piece of movement from the pacey right winger to get behind the Rowdies defensive line and create space for a shot, which he scored.
Sporting B is in midseason form, having already played 31 matches this year in the Segunda Liga, Portugal’s second division. The team currently sits in ninth place.
The Rowdies responded quickly though with committed team defense leading to offense. Sporting was awarded a throw-in deep in its own end and the Rowdies pinched in and put heavy pressure on the ball. Sporting turned it over and Tampa Bay’s Darwin Espinal received the ball with back to goal on the corner of the 18-yard box. Espinal spun and shot so quickly, Sporting’s goalkeeper was left flat-footed as he turned to watch the ball sail past him and into the far netting to tie up the matchin the 20th minute.
Tampa Bay’s starters continued to hold their own against Sporting before being replaced with a second unit of players on the hour mark. Chris Glodack, Ben Sweat and Espinal were the only players to play all 90 minutes.
Espinal nearly gave the Rowdies a lead in the 82nd minute, shooting hard on target and forcing Sporting’s goalkeeper to make a save. The goalkeeper was able to get a touch on the ball, but it popped high above him and appeared set to bounce over the line before a Sporting defender recovered to clear it away a yard in front of the goal line.
With the score still tied 1-1, Sporting once again took a lead in the 83rd minute on a cross from the right wing that found a friendly foot at the back post for a simple tap-in.
Still fighting hard for a result, the Rowdies didn’t have to wait long for the equalizer.
Zak Boggs tied the match just a minute later on an assist from Martin Nuñez in the 83rd minute. The goal looked very similar to one Keith Savage scored against Benfica U-20 on Tuesday, with Nuñez passing the ball from the byline back toward the penalty spot for Boggs to first-time past the goalkeeper.
It looked like the Rowdies would earn a draw until a Sporting free kick in the closing minutes bent around the wall and into the net to give Sporting a 3-2 win.

Rowdies Lineup: Glodack; Fernandez (King 60’), Mkandawire (Agbossoumonde 60’), Rusin (Antonijevic 60’), Sweat; Michaud (Nuñez 60’), Guerra (Saragosa 60’), Chavez (Savage 60’); Shriver (Boggs 60’), Espinal, Wuthrich* (Santos 60’)
* indicates trialist

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Rowdies vs. SL Benfica’s U-20s (Exhibition Game)

SEIXAL, Portugal (March 3, 2015)  —  Another match, another win.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies notched win number two on their preseason tour of Portugal on Tuesday morning with a 3-1 victory over SL Benfica’s U-20 team. The Rowdies are now 2-0-0 on the trip, having previously defeated CD Fatima on Sunday.
The match was played under perfect skies at a beautiful venue, SL Benfica’s Academy Complex in Seixal, just across the Rio Tagus from the capital city of Lisbon.
Coach Thomas Rongen changed the format of his team from the previous preseason matches, opting to let an 11-man unit play an hour, before being replaced by a second unit to play the last 30 minutes. In previous matches, each unit got 45 minutes.
The starting XI was captained by midfielder Marcelo Saragosa.
After a few minutes of uneasiness that allowed Benfica to settle on the ball and possess it, the Rowdies got themselves into the match and confidence started to soar.
Georgi Hristov gave Tampa Bay a great start, racing into the box in the 10th minute and earning a penalty kick after being brought down by the goalkeeper. Hristov converted the subsequent penalty to give the Rowdies a 1-0 lead early.
Ten minutes later, Hristov was the creator of another Rowdies goal. He chased a long ball over the top to the byline, cleverly sliding to get a foot around the ball before it rolled over the line for a Benfica goal kick. Hristov then slotted a pass back toward the penalty spot, where midfielder Keith Savage first-timed it hard into the net for a 2-0 Rowdies lead.
The rest of the first half was pretty even, though Benfica struggled to create scoring opportunities on its own. Its best chances came on free kicks around the box, though the Rowdies quickly organized to defend the free kicks and allow few shots on target.
Shortly after half time, the referee awarded Benfica a penalty kick of its own, which was converted to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Rowdies.
After the mass substitutions on the hour mark, the Rowdies were again the dominant team, creating chance after chance and peppering Benfica’s net.
Zak Boggs nearly made the score 3-1 tapping a rebound off the underside of the crossbar and over the line, but the assistant referee adjudged him to have been in an offside position on the initial shot and waived the goal off.
The Rowdies would get their third goal though, with 20-year forward Darwin Espinal taking advantage of a Benfica mistake and breaking away toward goal. After rounding the goalkeeper, Espinal stopped the ball on a dime to tap it around a defender that had recovered, leaving the defender on his back as Espinal confidently laced the ball into the net for a 3-1 win.
It was Espinal’s first goal as a member of the Rowdies.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Rowdies vs. CD Fatima (Exhibition Game)

FATIMA, Portugal (March 1, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ preseason tour of Portugal is off to a flying start courtesy of an impressive shift by rookie left back Zac Portillos in Tampa Bay’s 1-0 win over CD Fatima on Sunday morning.
After a couple of days adapting to Portugal in training, Tampa Bay’s match against Fatima was the first of four friendlies the club will play this week.
As in the two preseason friendlies, Head Coach Thomas Rongen played a split-squad, making 10 substitutions at halftime to ensure everyone who dressed for the match 45 minutes of game time. Portillos was the only player to play 90 minutes.
The first half lineup was captained by midfielder Marcelo Saragosa, who was one of six signed players to make their preseason debut Sunday. Juan Guerra, Georgi Hristov, Maicon Santos, Brad Rusin and Darwin Espinal also got their first minutes of the preseason under their belt in the win.
Santos had the best chance at a goal in the first half, receiving an excellent ball from Hristov on the penalty spot, but his first-time shot went inches wide of the goal post. Fatima didn’t threaten much, with the Rowdies comfortably controlling the match for long stretches.
Keith Savage, now the longest-tenured Rowdies player, wore the captain’s armband in the second half, which the Rowdies played extremely aggressive with a nose for goal. If not for a couple of very close offside calls, Tampa Bay could have put a few goals on the board with 20-yard Darwin Espinal just a touch early on several runs through the defense.
Portillos won the match for the Rowdies with an 85th minute goal assisted by Jeff Michaud. Portillos raced down the left flank with the ball at his feet before passing it inside to Michaud and continuing his run. Michaud played a perfectly weighted through ball for Portillos, who kept his balance after contact from a defender. Portillos rounded the diving keeper and slotted his first professional goal home with his right foot to put an exclamation mark on an impressive showing all match.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Zac Portillos – 85th Minute (Assisted by Jeff Michaud)

Rowdies First Half: Contofalsky; Balchan*, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Portillos; Guerra, Saragosa, King; Hristov, Santos, Nuñez
Second Half: Glodack; Fernandez, Agbossoumonde, Rusin, Portillos; Michaud, Savage, Wuthrich*; Shriver, Espinal, Boggs
* Indicates trialist