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 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Rowdies Lose Out 2-0 To Pittsburgh

October 7, 2023 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Tampa Bay Rowdies News Release

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell 2-0 to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. With the result, Pittsburgh clinched the 2023 Players' Shield and the top overall seed in the playoffs over the Rowdies.

As they did in the first meeting between the two sides, Pittsburgh caught the Rowdies on the back foot early. 29 seconds into the match, Albert Dika put the visitors ahead with a strike at the back post off of a cross from midfielder Junior Etou.

"I thought we were out-fought, out-battled all night long, to be honest," said Rowdies Head Coach Nicky Lay. "If you wanna see what it takes to win championships I think you should look no further than our opponents tonight. We were way too nice to play against tonight. We were miles off from the first minute and we never recovered."

Down an early goal, Tampa Bay found it difficult to break Pittsburgh's defensive line. Jennings had the most promising looks on net of the first half, sending a header in the 31st minute just wide of goal and then rifling a shot from a tight angle into the post.

A minute after entering the match in the 61st minute, Tola Showunmi set up Pittsburgh's second tally of the night as he found an unmarked Arturo Ordonez at the near post with a cross from the right edge of the box.

"We have guys going into the box unmarked, just no one near them for tap-ins," said Law. "Two again tonight. I don't think there was once tonight we crossed into the box and someone could just walk in for free and put the ball in the back of the net. It just has to mean more. It has to hurt more when we're defending. You saw that tonight with our opponents. They don't just let you past, and then when they have moments to attack they punish you."

Perhaps the lone highlight of the night for Tampa Bay was the return of 2022 USL Championship MVP Leo Fernandes, who earned his first minutes of the year since rupturing his achilles in preseason. Fernandes came off the bench in the 56th minute and registered a shot on target with a header that forced keeper Jahmali Waite to tip the ball over the bar. The Rowdies finished the night with five shots on target, but none of them were enough to trouble Pittsburgh.

Despite the loss, the Rowdies managed to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference by virtue of third-place Charleston falling at home to Miami. Should the Rowdies advance past the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal at Al Lang on October 21, they would host the conference semifinal the following weekend.

"We have lots of work to do." said Law. "That's all you can do. We'll have to pick these guys up as best we can but we all know we have a lot of improvements to make. That all falls on me."

The Rowdies close out the regular season next Saturday in Louisville.

Scoring Summary

PIT - Dikwa (Etou), 1'

PIT - Ordonez (Showunmi), 62'


TBR: Sparrow, Doherty, Lasso, Guillen, Areman (LaCava, 85'), Hilton, Ekra (Fernandes, 56'), Antley, Dennis (Williams, 56'), Perez (Harris, 46'), Jennings

PIT: White, Dos Santos, Hogan, Ordonez, Etou, Biasi, Forbes, Ybarra, Griffin, Kizza, Dikwa

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