Rowdies Dominate New York to Claim First Place
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (May 18, 2019) - The Tampa Bay Rowdies made a statement Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium, dominating the New York Red Bulls II 2-0 in a meeting of teams tied for first place.
Juan Tejada scored both goals, moving the Rowdies three points clear of the Red Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Rowdies (6-0-5, 23 points) now lead the 36-team USL Championship on points, wins and goal differential.
"We have a lot of respect for the team we were playing," Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. "It was two top teams going at it. They're a team that has been dominant in this division for three or four seasons and a big test for us. I'm proud of the way the players performed. It was enjoyable."
Saturday night's showdown figured to be a good one. The Rowdies boast the best defensive record in the Championship, while New York (6-2-2, 20 points) has scored the most goals in the Eastern Conference.
Once the match got going, the result was never in doubt.
After some early shakiness as both teams set up their high press, the Rowdies started to pull away and create chances. Tejada opened the scoring in the 28th minute off an Andrew Tinari corner kick, playing the ball down off his chest and before spinning and firing a shot past Red Bulls goalkeeper Evan Louro.
The Rowdies came out firing again in the second half, with Tejada again at the center of the attack.
The young Panamanian scored his second of the night after the Rowdies press forced a turnover in New York's half. Midfielder Kwadwo Poku received the ball and raced toward goal, drawing defenders in before playing a pass to Tejada at the back post for a first-time finish in the 58th minute.
Tejada now has four goals on the season, second-best behind Sebastian Guenzatti's five.
"We knew (New York) is a tough team, but we prepared really well during the week," Tejada said. "It was just teamwork. Everybody worked so hard and I was lucky to get the two goals. We worked very hard for it."
Rowdies midfielder Dom Oduro was ejected from the match in the 77th minute, five minutes after receiving a yellow card for a physical tackle on New York's Sean McSherry. Play was stopped for about five minutes while McSherry was tended to and ultimately carted off the field. Oduro was initially shown a yellow card, but before play restarted, referee Ismir Pekmic changed his decision and showed a straight red card to Oduro.
The man disadvantage didn't end up costing the Rowdies, as New York still managed only two shots on goal all night. Tampa Bay goalkeeper John McCarthy saved both to post his seventh clean sheet in 11 matches this season.
Up next, the Rowdies will host Swope Park Rangers at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, May 25 at 7:30. Tickets are available by clicking here.
Tampa Bay: Juan Tejada - 29th minute (assisted by Andrew Tinari)
Tampa Bay: Juan Tejada - 58th minute (assisted by Kwadwo Poku)
Tampa Bay: Dominic Oduro - 72nd minute (red card)
Tampa Bay: Pape Diakite - 90+1 minute
Rowdies XI (3-5-2): GK John McCarthy; D Tarek Morad, Pape Diakite, Caleb Richards; M David Najem (Mohamed Kone 85'), Kwadwo Poku (Jordan Doherty 70'), Andrew Tinari, Dom Oduro, Leo Fernandes; F Sebastian Guenzatti (c) (Zach Steinberger 89'), Juan Tejada
New York XI (4-3-3): GK Evan Louro; D Rece Buckmaster, Preston Kilwien, Jordan Scarlett, Edgardo Rito; M Chris Lema, Jean Koffi, Jared Stroud (c); M Marcus Epps (Sebastian Elney 66'), Mathias Jorgensen, Ben Mines (Sean McSherry 62' (Amarildo de Souza Junior 79'))
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