ROWDIES BEATEN 1-0 BY FC EDMONTON
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 18, 2015) -- For the first time in the Thomas Rongen era, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have lost a match at Al Lang Stadium. FC Edmonton will depart as 1-0 winners, courtesy of a Stefan Antonijevic own goal in the 56th minute.
The Eddies had a corner kick in the 56th minute, which found Mallan Roberts' head at close range. Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens made a point-blank reaction save to deny Roberts, but the ball bounced directly to Antonijevic on the ground and caromed into the net to give the Eddies the decisive score.
"I haven't lost too many (like that,)" Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. "You don't see that very often, it's not a play that happens anywhere in the world. We had a very good first half, but again, weren't able to put the team away. We have two or three good opportunities and don't capitalize it. We gave up a goal that could have been prevented."
Despite the loss, the Rowdies remain atop the NASL Combined Standings on 22 points, one ahead of the New York Cosmos in second place.
Tampa Bay dominated the first half possession and scoring chances, but couldn't find the finishing touch, finishing without a goal from the second consecutive match. The Rowdies could've opened the scoring just seven minutes into the match when midfielder Brian Shriver beat Eddie Edward one-on-one and got to the endline for a cross, but no Rowdies were available to tap it home.
Facing heavy pressure and tired from three matches in eight days, Edmonton sat deep in its own half to defend and Tampa Bay just couldn't find a way through.
The Eddies' goal, barely 10 minutes into the second half, lifted the visitors and gave them a second wind.
"I did enough to get (Roberts) out of position and Matt made a great save, but the unfortunate happened," Antonijevic said of the only goal of the match. "It ricocheted off my face and into the goal. That's how soccer goes sometimes. You might be the better team on the field, statistically, but what matters is the end result. Today, we were the better team, but we didn't put away what we had to put away and they scored one and that's all they needed."
Tampa Bay's second half saw a flurry of chaotic scoring chances, but the only time the Rowdies actually found the back of the net, the goal was waived off due to offside.
Rowdies forward Maicon Santos appeared to have scored an equalizing goal in the 89th minute after a series of headers in the box, but he scored from an offside position and the goal was waived off.
Edmonton: Mallan Roberts (56th minute)
Rowdies: Pickens; King, Mkandawire (c), Antonijevic, Sweat; Guerra, Shriver (Hristov 61'), Núñez (Boggs 80'); Hernandez, Hertzog (Santos 61'), Espinal
FC Edmonton: Van Oekel; Moses, Watson (c), Roberts, Edward; Grannito; Nonni (Cruz 74'); de Freitas (Zebie 81'), Raudales, Smith; Jalali (Jonke 74')