The Tampa Bay Rowdies extended their unbeaten run to seven matches after a 1-1 draw against the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday night in Atlanta, Ga. Forward Pedro Mendes scored the lone goal of the first half after his well-placed strike from outside the 18-yard box got past Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo. The Rowdies would equalize the match in the early minutes of the second half thanks to a goal from the penalty spot by forward Georgi Hristov.
After the early goal by Atlanta, the match underwent a 23-minute weather delay in the 9th minute of play. After the match got back underway, it was the Rowdies that came out striking. Controlling possession, the visiting team pushed for the equalizer but was unable to create any clear chances that would level the match.
Midfielder Shane Hill had two shots go wide right just before the 20 minute mark, while minutes later it was Atlanta’s Pablo Cruz that had a chance of his own. Beating the Rowdies defense, he entered the box and took a shot that forced Restrepo to make a diving save to his right.
With the Rowdies continuing to look for the equalizer, Restrepo made sure that Atlanta would not extend their lead with another save in the 34th minute. As midfielder Horace James slipped past two Rowdies defenders, he sent in a low cross forcing Restrepo off his line to stop Atlanta from scoring their second goal of the match.
On the ensuing drive, Rowdies midfielder Luke Mulholland found space just outside the 18-yard box and curled a shot on goal. A diving Nasco came up with the save that kept the Silverbacks up 1-0 at the half.
Minutes into the second half, Atlanta defender Martyn Lancaster was called for a handball inside the box and the Rowdies were awarded a penalty kick. Hristov would capitalize on the penalty kick and leveled the match at 1-1.
After the Rowdies equalized the match, Atlanta pushed for the go-ahead goal but would be denied by Restrepo in several opportunities. Both Mendes and Menjivar had chances to put the Silverbacks ahead in the 58th and 63rd minutes respectively, only to find Restrepo at the end of both their shots.
With Atlanta applying the pressure, Rowdies second-half substitute Etienne Barbara nearly put the Rowdies up with a fantastic run down the left flank. After dancing around two Atlanta defenders, he was unable to put his shot on target, sending the ball just wide of the right post.
Restrepo would make several saves to keep the Rowdies leveled at one, and in several chances substitute Brad Stisser would see Restrepo deny him the go-ahead goal.
It was midfielder Evans Frimpong who almost scored the game-winning goal for the Rowdies, getting past a defender with a perfect step over move and firing a shot on goal. Atlanta’s goalkeeper found himself positioned perfectly to make a one-handed stop on Frimpong's shot.
As the match was winding down, Atlanta was inches away from making it 2-1 in the 85th minute. After an Atlanta forward headed the ball past Restrepo, it was the Rowdies goalkeeper himself that would reach back and punch the ball out of harm before Stisser could push the ball into the net.
With Hristov scoring the game-tying goal, the Rowdies remain as the only undefeated team in the 2013 NASL Fall Season. The seven game unbeaten run is the longest run by the Rowdies this season.
Atlanta: Pedro Mendes - 4th minute (Assisted by Richie Menjivar)
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 50th minute (Penalty Kick)
Atlanta: Martyn Lancaster - 47th minute
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 61st minute
GK Diego Restrepo; D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Jay Needham, D Takuya Yamada, D Andres Arango; M Shane Hill (Etienne Barbara 57'), M Stuart Campbell (Jordan Gafa 78'), M Keith Savage; F Luke Mulholland, F Georgi Hristov, F Evans Frimpong
GK: Joe Nasco; D Mike Randolph, D Beto Navarro, B Bobby Reiss, D Martyn Lancaster (Captain) (Brad Stisser 69'); M Borfor Carr (Alex Caceres 55'), M Milton Blanco (Lucas Paulini 82'), M Pablo Cruz, M Richard Menjivar, M Horace James; F Pedro Mendes
The Rowdies will host the Carolina RailHawks at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, September 7 with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, call (813) 287-1539 or click here.