Rowdies Settle for a Point against New York
ST PETERSBURG, Fla - The Tampa Bay Rowdies finished deadlocked at 1-1 with the visiting New York Red Bulls II on Friday night in front of 6,882 fans at Al Lang Stadium. New York capitalized on one of very few chances to take a lead in the first half and then stumbled under pressure from the Rowdies to give up an equalizing own goal.
The draw leaves the Rowdies even with the Western Conference's Phoenix Rising FC at 62 points with three matches remaining for both sides. Meanwhile, El Paso Locomotive FC sits four points back but with a match in hand on both Tampa Bay and Phoenix.
"I thought we created some great chances, in both halves, but we became a little disjointed, no doubt about it," said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. "...We'll look at some of the chances we missed and think we should have won it, but it's hard to complain when it's only our second tie of the season. We usually find a way to win those. We weren't quite at our best but it's been a real tough stretch and I think it showed a little bit tonight."
Friday's match opened evenly, with neither side able to create many true chances. New York managed to take advantage of its first of the night in the 23rd minute as Luther Archimeded sprinted down the left wing on a counter attack before slipping a shot past Evan Louro as the Rowdies keeper rushed to the top of the box in an attempt to close down the angle.
The Rowdies came close to leveling the match six minutes after New York's go-ahead strike. Forward Steevan Dos Santos guided a header off a Leo Fernandes corner kick delivery on target, but New York's Emir Tombul was in position to head the ball out of danger.
Tampa Bay continued to apply pressure on the visitors through the rest of the half and it paid off as the half entered added time. Fernandes played a ball into the left edge of the box for Sebastian Dalgaard, who then fired a cross that deflected off defender Juan Castillo and went into the back of the net.
Fernandes was the impetus for another Rowdies chance in the 51st minute, threading a ball through for Dos Santos. The veteran forward took a couple touch before letting a low strike goal that was saved by keeper Aj Marcucci. Four minutes later, Marcucci produced another stop as Dos Santos fed Guenzatti in front of the goal for a golden chance. Guenzatti's shot was on target but clipped the inside of Marcucci's left leg and somehow deflected away from goal.
In the 81st minute, substitute Jordan Adebay-Smith rushed into New York's final third only with a crowd of defenders in his wake. His first touch let him down, though, and Marcucci was able to come out to shut down the attack.
New York then found a couple good chances of their own in the final stages. A powered strike from Jeremy Rafanello clipped defender Aaron Guillen's foot and redirected into Tampa Bay's crossbar thankfully. Manuel Egbo gave Louro his toughest test of the night the next minute, firing a shot from long range that was dipping down into Tampa Bay's goal until Louro stretched out to tip it over the bar.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men when Rafanello was sent off after a foul on Guillen off the ball. Even with the man advantage, the Rowdies could not find a way into the back of the net. Both Guenzatti and Fernandes each had shots stymied by Marcucci as time ran out.
"We've got three more difficult games to come," said Collins. "We've put ourselves in a great position and the boys will just rest, recover and get ready for Wednesday. It was a shame we had such a good crowd here and we couldn't put on a better performance for them. But one thing they saw was guys giving everything right until the last second and nearly snatching it at the end. So still lots to be proud of."
NY - Luther Archimede (Omar Sowe) 23'
TBR - Juan Castillo (Own Goal) 45'
Rowdies: Louro; Scarlett, Lasso, Guillen; Dalgaard, Hilton, Ekra, Wyke, Fernandes; Dos Santos, Guenzatti
New York: Marcucci; Egbo, Tombul, Castillo, Pendant; Sowe, Zajec, Edelman, Rafanello; Archimede, LaCava
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