Forward Georgi Hristov scored twice and added an assist to lead the Tampa Bay Rowdies to an incredible 7-4 win away to the San Antonio Scorpions on Saturday and earned himself NASL Player of the Week honors.
Hristov’s performance was one among many individual highlights as the Rowdies staged an improbable first half comeback from three goals down and put the result beyond doubt after the break to open the 2013 North American Soccer League Fall Season in spectacular fashion.
“It is an honor that the league has selected me as NASL Player of the Week,” said Hristov, whose goals helped the Rowdies to top the NASL standings. “I also would like to thank my teammates for their amazing effort in Saturday's comeback. I was fortunate to come away with two goals and an assist, but the most important thing is that we got the win.”
Trailing 3-0 after just 18 minutes of play at Toyota Field, the Rowdies staged an incredible fight back, scoring four consecutive times to take a 4-3 advantage over the Scorpions at halftime.
Bulgarian forward Hristov scored the Rowdies fifth goal, which would eventually be the game-winner, in the 67th minute off an assist from newly acquired striker-partner Etienne Barbara.
After San Antonio made it 5-4 in the 79th minute and threatened to haul themselves away from the brink of defeat, Hristov returned the favor and dished out the pass for Barbara’s first goal in Tampa Bay colors six minutes later. Hristov closed out the scoring for the Rowdies with a successful penalty kick two minutes into stoppage time to rubber-stamp the victory.
Currently third in the NASL race for the 2013 Golden Boot with seven goals (Hans Denissen, San Antonio, 10 goals; Brian Shriver, Carolina, 9 goals), Hristov signed with Tampa Bay this past March after spending nearly a decade playing for teams in Bulgaria, Poland and Israel, where he scored 88 goals in 233 games.
In Bulgaria, the native of Plovdiv spend time with PFC Lokomotiv Sofia (2012); PFC Slavia Sofia (2010-2012); PFC Levski Sofia (2008-2010), where he won the national championship and competed in the UEFA Europa League; PFC Botev Plovdiv (2007-2008), where he was league football of the year; and FC Maritsa Plovdiv (2002-2007). Hristov has also seen action with FC Ashdod of Israel (2011) and Polish club Wisla Kraków (2010).