Three Things: Swope Park 1 - 3 Rowdies
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - The Tampa Bay Rowdies kicked off the second half of the regular season with a bang Sunday evening, beating the Swope Park Rangers 3-1 away from home to sweep the season series.
Here's Three Things from the match...
1. Here's To You, Mr. Robinson
Tampa Bay goalkeeper Macklin Robinson made a surprise start Sunday, earning his first official appearance for the Rowdies. Prior to yesterday's match, Robinson had yet to even be included in the matchday squad for a USL Championship match. He was on the bench for Tampa Bay's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against The Villages SC on May 14, but that was the only time all season he had dressed for a match.
Robinson made the most of his chance Sunday, making five saves in a Rowdies victory. If not for some rotten luck, he likely would have recorded a clean sheet. He saved Ethan Vanacore-Decker's penalty kick in the 72nd minute, only for the rebound to bounce right to Vanacore-Decker for a second bite at the apple.
Apart from that one bad bounce, Robinson was in full control of the match.
2. The High Press Continues
When opponents prepare to play the Rowdies, surely the one thing that sticks out the most on film is that the Rowdies will press extremely high and try to force turnovers deep in the opposition half to create quick scoring chances.
The high press was hugely successful against this young Rangers team with it always looking likely to yield rewards.
We even pointed it out in our running match commentary.
Sure enough, before the first half ended, the Rowdies won themselves a goal with the high press. Swope Park has a throw-in in its own half and throws the ball backward, signaling the Rowdies to chase. Sebastian Guenzatti immediately puts pressure on the ball and forces it back to the goalkeeper, who makes a bad decision and passes the ball directly to Juan Tejada in the box.
Rangers captain Graham Smith has no choice but to tackle Tejada and concede a penalty kick because there are more Rowdies attackers in the box than Swope Park defenders and the goalkeeper is out of position because he had to receive a pass due to Guenzatti's pressure.
3. Malik's Moment
It's been chronicled before how big of an impact Malik Johnson has had in the Rowdies attack since making his Tampa Bay debut a little more than a month ago, but before Sunday, he had only two assists to show for his efforts.
He finally got a well-deserved goal yesterday and what a goal it was!
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