Thursday, 28 May 2015

Rowdies vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 3rd Round)

PITTSBURGH, Penn. (May 27, 2015) -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies exited the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night after losing 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh. Riverhounds midfielder Rob Vincent scored the game-winning goal as the match entered stoppage time in the second half.
"You've got to give Pittsburgh a lot of credit," Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "They clearly deserved to win. It's pretty startling to me that we can play such a great game against Fort Lauderdale with the same Starting XI and such a mediocre game here. We're extremely disappointed, but we have to move on and learn from this."
From the start, Rowdies forward Martin Nuñez didn't have to wait much to get the first scoring opportunity of the match as it came just two minutes after the start.
Nuñez entered the 6-yard box and whipped a shot on net but it was Riverhounds goalkeeper Ryan Hulings who denied him the goal.
Minutes later, Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens was called to make his first save of the match, diving to his right to push a shot by midfielder Kevin Kerr out for a corner kick. 
After an early chance, it wasn't until the 19th minute that the Rowdies created danger in Pittsburgh's 18-yard box. Midfielder Georgi Hristov curled in a corner kick finding defender Stefan Antonijevic towering over the Riverhounds defense. His powerful header was cleared off the line by midfielder Stephen Okai leaving Nuñez a scoring chance off the rebound. Again, it was Hulings who denied the Uruguayan his goal that would put the Rowdies ahead.
Pittsburgh had several chances at the close of the half, including a series a passes that led up to a shot by Kerr that hit off the post in the 40th minute.
The home side continued its momentum in the second half, not allowing the Rowdies to create chances to score the go-ahead goal. The Riverhounds had back-to-back chances in the 52nd minute with Pickens first denying Vincent with a great diving save, followed by an Okai header that went just wide of the net.
Rowdies head coach Thomas Rongen tried to add energy into his squad with second-half substitute Darwin Espinal, but the Riverhounds controlled the Rowdies offense until the final whistle.
Pickens was tested once again in the 79th minute, when Kerr received a long ball from defender Willie Hunt and volleyed his shot on net. The Rowdies goalkeeper dove to his right and sent the shot out for a corner kick.
As the referee signaled three minutes of added time, Vincent sprinted past the Rowdies midfield and blasted a shot into the bottom left corner of the net. Pickens, who had denied the Riverhounds all night long, was unable to make the save that would have sent the match into extra time.

Scoring Summary:
Pittsburgh: Robert Vincent - 90+1 minute

Riverhounds: Hulings; Arena, Hunt, Pasher, Green; Kerr, Moloto (Flunder 90'), Okai, Vincent, Earls; Cabrilo (Virgara 67')
Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Saragosa (Espinal 46'), Menjivar, Hristov; Hernandez, Santos (Hertzog 63'), Nuñez

Monday, 18 May 2015

Rowdies vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (May 16, 2015) -- As the rain poured down at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night, Robert Hernandez was in the right place at the right time.
Hernandez's first goal of the season carried a lot of weight, lifting the Rowdies over the rival Fort Lauderdale Strikers in front of 6,851 fans in a very tight match, but was nothing more than a tap-in at the back post. Chaos in front of Strikers goalkeeper David Meves saw the ball pop over to Hernandez all by himself to score the game-winner in the 55th minute.
The victory puts the Rowdies into second place alone in the NASL Spring Season standings, three points behind the league-leading New York Cosmos with three games to go. It also puts Tampa Bay in control of the Coastal Cup, with six points, ahead of Fort Lauderdale's three and Jacksonville's zero.
"It wasn't just another game, because I knew the importance of this game in terms of the standings, in terms of being at home and in terms of knowing that it would be in front of a great crowd," Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "A win for us, to stay in the hunt with three games left, was the most important thing."
Forward Maicon Santos had taken a shot which Meves saved but couldn't control. It bounced to the 5-foot-5 Hernandez for the defining moment of the match. 
“(Hernandez) can stretch defenses because of his dribble-penetration and speed,” Rongen said. “As a young player, he’s very gifted. There’s certain things I can’t teach, and his speed is sprinters speed. For him to get a goal was very cool. He’s not big, but he’s fast.”
For Hernandez, who had missed excellent scoring chances in previous games, getting his first goal for the Rowdies was huge.
“It was very emotional,” Hernandez said. “Now that I’ve scored, hopefully there are many more to come.”
Goalkeeper Matt Pickens didn't face a ton of shots from the Strikers, but was there at every time of need to keep his second-consecutive clean sheet in the win. Rongen credited the play of not only Pickens, but the four defenders in front of him and two defensive midfielders, for the fact that Tampa Bay’s goals-against-average has now dipped below one goal per game.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Robert Hernandez - 55th minute (unassisted)

Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Saragosa (c), Menjivar, Hristov; Hernandez (Balchan 83'), Santos (Guerra 86'), Núñez (Hertzog 73')
Fort Lauderdale: Meves; Graye, Sanfilippo (c), Kling, Guerrero (Ramirez 73'); Sanchez (Hassan 73'), Freitas, Gonzalez, Angulo (Chin 57'), Pinho

Rowdies vs. Ottawa Fury FC

OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada (May 9, 2015) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies were unable to get on the scoresheet Saturday afternoon, but prevented Ottawa Fury FC from doing the same as the clubs played out a 0-0 draw in front of 3,461 at TD Place.
The draw leaves the Rowdies two points off the pace of first-place New York Cosmos, pending results around the league this weekend. This match wrapped up a stretch of four road matches in the opening six for the Rowdies, who now benefit from playing three of their final four Spring Season matches at Al Lang Stadium.
"It's a pretty good result at the end of the day," Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "A draw on the road is a good thing for us. We played well in stretches and created a few chances. We're not pleased, but we're lucky to get out of here with a draw and we'll take it."
Genuine scoring chances were few and few between in the opening 45 minutes. Ottawa had the best chance of the half in the 9th minute, when Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s free kick from just outside the box went through the Rowdies wall, but goalkeeper Matt Pickens dove to his left-hand side to make the save.
Tampa Bay could’ve scored once or twice in the first half, which was repeatedly stopped by injuries to Ottawa’s Romauld Peiser, Rafael Alves and Rowdies captain Marcelo Saragosa.
Saragosa took a cleat to the chin in the 34th minute which drew blood and forced him off the field for about six minutes. The wound repeatedly re-opened and eventually resulted in Saragosa exiting the match in the 76th minute.
As the match wound down, each team had one final brilliant scoring chance, but neither side could convert.
The Rowdies were first, with second-half substitute Robert Hernandez playing a perfect chip in to Corey Hertzog near the penalty spot in the 79th minute, but Hertzog’s first-touch shot looped well over the crossbar and out of play.
Ottawa’s chance came in the 89th minute when defender-turned-forward Brandon Poltronieri benefitted off an errant back pass and found himself one-on-one with Pickens. Poltronieri took one too many touches toward goal and Pickens was able to leave his line and collect the ball.
It was the Rowdies’ second clean sheet in six matches to start the season. Kamil Contofalsky recorded the other against Minnesota United FC on April 11.
"We have two number one (goalkeepers)," Rongen said. "Let the best man win the duel, so to speak. I'm very pleased for Matt. The back six, with the defenders in front of him plus the told holding midfielders, did a good job. I'm pleased for the team that we were able to keep the zero. I said at the beginning of the season that we should be a team that shouldn't concede much."
Newly-acquired Rowdies midfielder made his club debut in the match, playing all 90 minutes.

Ottawa: Peiser; Richter, Alves (Eustaquio 25') (Paterson 89'), Falvey, Trafford; De Guzman, Beckie, Ubiparipovic; Haworth (Paulo Jr. 67'), Weideman, Poltronieri
Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Saragosa (c) (Guerra 76'), Menjivar, Núñez (Shriver 80'); Boggs, Espinal (Hernandez 71'), Hertzog

Rowdies vs. Carolina Railhawks

CARY, N.C. (May 2, 2015) —The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Carolina RailHawks drew 1-1 on Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The home team got on the scoreboard early as forward Nacho Novo scored in the 6th minute, but they would not hold the lead for long as midfielder Martin Nuñez equalized for the Rowdies in the 19th minute. Tampa Bay played with 10 men for the last 14 minutes of the match, as midfielder Georgi Hristov was issued a red card in the second half. 
Things didn't start out great for the Rowdies, as they went down 1-0 in the 6th minute. Midfielder Ty Shipalane beat Rowdies defender Ben Sweat on the right flank and crossed a low ball towards the far post. His cross found a wide open Novo, who tapped the ball in to give the RailHawks the lead.
Rowdies forward Maicon Santos would come close to equalizing the match in the 15th minute but after chipping his shot past Railhawks goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap, the ball hit the crossbar and went out of play. 
In the 19th minute Tampa Bay would level the match via a strike from Nuñez at the far post. Hristov received a ball from defender Darnell King inside the 18-yard box and whipped in a low cross into the heart of the box. Nuñez was on the end of it, striking the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-1. The Uruguayan forward has now scored two goals in his last two matches.
The Rowdies gained momentum after scoring, elevating their pressure on the RailHawks back line. Tampa Bay almost took the lead in the 33rd minute after a series of shots inside the 18-yard box. Forward Maicon Santos had the initial shot on goal, which was saved by Gilstrap. It was then followed by a shot by defender Stefan Antonijevic and Hristov, but both were saved on the line by the RailHawks defenders. 
The second half started similar to the first, with the RailHawks controlling most of the possession. After not being able to create any dangerous chances in the first 10 minutes of the half, Carolina had three chances in the 55th, 58th and 59th minute. Midfielder Mark Anderson had the first chance but his shot trickled just wide of the net and minutes later it was midfielder Leo Osaki that had his goal robbed by Rowdies midfielder Marcelo Saragosa. Novo had the last of the three dangerous chances, smashing his volley into the side netting from six yards out. 
As the match progressed, the Rowdies were able to create chances in the RailHawks box, but they would be unable to capitalize on any of the opportunities. 
In the 76th minute, Hristov was sent off after fouling midfielder Wells Thompson around the center circle.
Despite being down to 10 men, the Rowdies had a clear chance to take the lead in the 80th minute. After defender Stefan Antonijevic flicked a header towards the far post, defender Wes Knight denied an incoming Nuñez his second goal of the night. 
In the second minute of added time, it was goalkeeper Matt Pickens who once again came up big for the Rowdies. Thompson found space just outside the 18-yard box and curled his shot on goal. Pickens dove to his left and stretched his arm out to send the ball out for a corner kick. 

Scoring Summary:
Carolina: Nacho Novo - 6th minute (assisted by Ty Shipalane)
Rowdies: Martin Nuñez - 19th minute (assisted by Georgi Hristov

RailHawks: Gilstrap; Knight, Low, Scott (C), Tobin; Shipalane, Hlavaty, Wagner, Osaki, Anderson (Thompson 73'); Novo (Baladez 81')

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Rowdies vs. Jacksonville Armada FC

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 25, 2015) — Tampa Bay Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens didn’t start Saturday night’s 3-2 win over the Jacksonville Armada FC, but he certainly played a big role in ending it from the goalkeeper position.
Pickens entered the match in place of injured starting goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky in stoppage time and made a handful in saves in short time to protect Tampa Bay’s lead and help the Rowdies to a huge Coastal Cup victory in front of 5,460 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
“While I was coming on, I realized that I had never entered a match as a substitute before,” Pickens said. “I hadn’t touched a ball for probably two hours, but I did what I could.”
Maicon Santos scored the first and last goals of the match, with Martin Nunez scoring the Rowdies’ second goal to tie the match in the second half.
The victory puts the Rowdies just one point behind the first-place New York Cosmos in the NASL Spring Season standings. It also ties the Rowdies with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers atop the Coastal Cup standings. 
“We never gave up,” Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. “That was the mantra of our team in preseason and in the first two games. Man, did they respond to a little bit of (yelling) at halftime? I can’t be happier for this team. The work so hard and were finally able to give the home fans a win.”
The match had a frenetic start, a worthy precursor to the dramatic finish.
Santos put the Rowdies ahead just 12 minutes in with a penalty kick, his first goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, Jacksonville was awarded a penalty kick of its own. Armada FC midfielder Marcos Flores’ shot was saved by Contofalsky, but Flores tapped in the rebound to even the match at 1-1 in the 14th minute.
After that, Jacksonville took control of the match, taking a 2-1 lead in the 32nd minute on a Jemal Johnson strike that caromed off both goalposts before trickling over the line.
Needing some magic in the second half, the Rowdies got a lifeline with Nunez’s blast from outside of the box to tie the match in the 59th minute.
Santos’ second goal of the night, a thundering header off Georgi Hristov’s cross from the byline in the 77th minute, set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Jacksonville finished the match with shot after shot on the Rowdies’ net. Pickens entered the match in the first of seven minutes of stoppage time and benefitted from a Rowdies team that put its body on the line time after time to block shots before they could reach Pickens.
When the Rowdies needed him though, Pickens made every save. He tipped pawed shots out of play with reflex saves and tipped the ball over the crossbar to help the Rowdies over the finish line with a 3-2 win in Tampa Bay’s 2015 Coastal Cup opener.

Scoring Summary:
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 12th minute (Penalty Kick)
Jacksonville: Marcos Flores - 14th minute
Jacksonville: Jemal Johnson - 32nd minute
Rowdies: Martin Nuñez - 59th minute
Rowdies: Maicon Santos - 77th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)

Rowdies: Čontofalský (Pickens 90'); Balchan, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Saragosa (c), Nuñez (King 72'), Hristov; Boggs (Hertzog 69'), Santos, Espinal
Jacksonville: Gallardo; Bahner, Ortiz, Trejo; Hoyos (Barrett 77'), Castrillon (c) (Nicklaw 73'), Scaglia, Flores (Rodriguez 79'); Millien, Keita, Johnson

Rowdies vs. New York Cosmos

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.(April 18, 2015) —The Tampa Bay Rowdies suffered their first defeat of the season Saturday night, falling 2-0 to the New York Cosmos in the Cosmos’ home opener at James M. Shuart Stadium.
Marcos Senna helped the hosts to an early lead with a successful penalty kick in the 11th minute. New York’s Leo Fernandes doubled the lead just three minutes into the second half on a cross by Walter Restrepo.
Tampa Bay didn’t play well in the first half, thanks in part to the early New York goal. The Cosmos played a dangerous cross in from the right wing, which was cleared by the Rowdies defense, but the referee adjudged Rowdies right back Darnell King to have committed a handball and awarded New York a penalty kick.
Senna stutter stepped and shot to the right side of goal, beating Rowdies goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky, who dove the opposite direction. It was Senna’s first goal of the season.
The rest of the half was a struggle for the Rowdies, who were outplayed by the Cosmos in front of a sellout crowd in Raul’s home debut.
The second half didn’t start well for Tampa Bay, with Senna winning a 50-50 challenge against Rowdies left back Ben Sweat and racing toward goal in space and finding Restrepo. The Rowdies defense over-pursued the ball, following it all the way to the byline and leaving plenty of space near the penalty spot for Restrepo to cross to Fernandes to finish for the 2-0 lead.
Tampa Bay played itself into the match after going down 2-0, but couldn’t find the finishing touch for a goal despite a few scoring chances.
In the 59th minute, King played a cross in from the right side to a couple of waiting Rowdies. Georgi Hristov took a shot, but lifted it over the crossbar.
Second-half substitute Darwin Espinal made a positive impact on the match, racing to the byline in the 71st minute. He beat his defender with the ball and turned toward goal before passing to Hristov, who was just wide of target with his shot.
Martin Nunez fired a first-time shot on goal in the 81st minute, but Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, who was not tested much on the night, made the save to preserve his clean sheet.

Scoring Summary:
New York: Marcos Senna - 11th minute (Penalty Kick)
New York: Leo Fernandes - 48th minute (Assisted by Walter Restrepo

New York Cosmos: Maurer;  Gorskie, Roversio, Mendes (c), Ayoze; Senna, Szetela; Restrepo, Raúl (Mkosana 90'), Fernandes (Moffat 86'); Stokkelien (Guenzatti 77')
Rowdies: Čontofalský; King, Mkandawire, Antonijevic, Sweat; Guerra (Nuñez 58') , Välimaa, Hristov; Hernandez (Boggs 86'), Santos, Hertzog (Espinal 58')