Hounds Drop Opener at Tampa Bay, 3-0
Riverhounds SC was bested in its 2021 season opener, falling 3-0 to the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Former Riverhounds forward Steevan Dos Santos opened the scoring against his former club in the first half, and a penalty kick by Sebastián Guenzatti and a late tap-in by Jordan Adebayo-Smith extended the Rowdies' lead.
The Rowdies (2-0-0) lead the Atlantic Division after handing the Hounds (0-1-0) their second loss in the past three season openers, both losses at Al Lang Stadium in 2019 and '21.
The Rowdies had more of the play in the first half, possessing the ball 67 percent of the time, but the chances were more even, as they produced just a 4-2 edge in shots.
Danny Vitiello made his first save of the season after just six minutes, easily scooping a low, bouncing shot from distance by Laurence Wyke.
Hounds newcomer Tommy Williamson came closest to scoring for the Hounds after winning a free kick 25 yards from goal in the 15th minute. Williamson took the free kick and put a dipping effort on goal, forcing Rowdies goalie Evan Louro to slide to his right and tip the shot over the crossbar.
Tampa Bay finally opened the scoring through Dos Santos in the 31st minute. Winger Leo Fernandes settled a pass on the left flank outside the corner of the box, and he sent a driven cross to the front of the net, where Dos Santos scored with a header by making the back-post run.
The half started brightly for the Hounds, as Jordan Dover's cross from the right wing found Williamson in the middle, but his contested effort to head the ball on goal looped over the crossbar.
The Hounds continued to battle despite seeing less of the ball, and Alex Dixon nearly tied the match when he split two of the Rowdies defenders and circled charging goalkeeper Louro, only to have Tampa Bay's Jordan Scarlett recover in time to block the shot away.
The Rowdies doubled the lead when Guenzatti slipped the ball into the box for Dos Santos. Vitiello came off his line and was penalized for tripping Dos Santos, and Guenzatti converted the penalty kick for the Rowdies in the 75th minute.
The scoring ended with a miscommunication between Vitiello and his back line, which allowed Adebayo-Smith to pass the ball into an open net in the 84th minute.
Hounds Man of the Match
Jordan Dover was solid in a difficult match, posting six tackles, three key passes and two on-target crosses, all of which were team highs.
The Hounds go on the road for a second consecutive Saturday when they visit Hartford Athletic at 7 p.m. on May 15. Hartford is 2-0-0 on the season, trailing the Rowdies in the Atlantic Division on goal difference.
Riverhounds SC lineup (5-2-1-2) - Danny Vitiello; Dani Rovira (Todd Wharton 61'), Preston Kilwien, Shane Wiedt, Mekeil Williams, Jordan Dover; Kenardo Forbes, Danny Griffin; Alex Dixon (Josh Gatt 69'); Tommy Williamson (Louis Pérez 61'), Russell Cicerone (Anthony Velarde 61')
Tampa Bay Rowdies lineup (3-4-3) - Evan Louro; Aaron Guillén, Forrest Lasso, Jordan Scarlett; Lewis Hilton, Conner Antley (Sebastian Dalgaard 70'), Leo Fernandes (Dayonn Harris 83'), Laurence Wyke; Zach Steinberger, Sebastián Guenzatti, Steevan Dos Santos (Jordan Adebayo-Smith 79')
TBR - Steevan Dos Santos 31' (Leo Fernandes)
TBR - Sebastián Guenzatti 75' (pen.)
TBR - Jordan Adebayo-Smith 84'
PIT - Danny Griffin 11' (unsporting behavior)
PIT - Josh Gatt 76' (unsporting behavior)
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