The Tampa Bay Rowdies finished the NASL Season with a 6-4 loss to Minnesota United FC on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. United FC scored twice in the first 45 minutes to give the visitors the lead at the half. Despite scoring three goals in the second half, the Rowdies would give up four more goals of their own to lose the final match of the season.
"Today we made so many poor decisions and ultimately paid the price," said Head Coach Ricky Hill. "At times we looked like we could tie the match but unfortunately our defensive mistakes cost us the match."
Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo was called to action early on as he made a fantastic diving save to his left after a Minnesota attacker smashed a shot on goal. This would be a prelude to what was to come as Minnesota would get the first goal of the night in the 10th minute. After midfielder Omar Daley reached the touchline, he crossed the ball to the far post where he found an open Floyd Franks. The midfielder placed his header perfectly past Restrepo for the 1-0 lead.
United FC continued to apply the pressure and doubled the lead in the 17th minute. This time Daley scored a goal of his own after a fantastic run down the right flank. After beating defender Raphael Cox, he smashed his shot into the back of the Rowdies net to make it 2-0.
The Rowdies fired back with midfielder Luke Mulholland finding space and taking a dangerous shot just over the bar in the 20th minute. Just before the half-hour mark, forward Carl Cort had his first chance of the match as he received a pass from forward Lucky Mkosana just outside the box. The English forward took a right-footed shot, but goalkeeper Mitch Hildenbrandt made a diving save to his right to keep the visiting team up 2-0.
The Rowdies were able to regain possession in the last 15 minutes of the half but they would be unable to produce any dangerous chances on Minnesota’s goal.
"It's never good to go into the half down two goals," commented Hill. "We found ourselves outnumbered on their attacks and we did not make clever choices."
The second half saw the Rowdies score their first goal of the night in the 52nd minute off a Luke Mulholland penalty kick. Mulholland scored four goals in four straight matches, tallying a total of 11 goals on the season.
Minnesota would react with a quick goal just minutes later as Daley scored his second of the night after Restrepo had initially denied forward Pablo Campos in the previous shot. Daley sent a rocket into the top left corner of the net to make it 3-1.
In an action-packed second half, the Rowdies narrowed the lead back to one in the 65th minute. Minnesota defender Aaron Pitchkolan misplayed a cross from the right flank and scored on his own goal.
With the Rowdies looking for the equalizer, Minnesota forward Pablo Campos once again stretched the lead to two in the 71st minute. At that point the match opened up and saw United FC score yet another goal thanks to Daley to make it 5-2. The midfielder netted his third of the night, chipping it over Restrepo who had come off his line to cut down on the incoming player.
Second-half substitute Evans Frimpong cut the lead to two in the 85th minute, firing a strike that Hildenbrandt was unable to control.
"It felt good to score two goals, but in a game where you give up six it doesn't really feel the same," said Frimpong. "We weren't sharp defensively and it showed on the pitch.
With the score 5-3, Restrepo committed a foul in the box in the 90th minute. The Rowdies keeper suffered an injury on the play and he would be substituted for Andrew Fontein. The substitute was unable to deny Campos his second of the night as he smashed the ball into the left side of the net.
Rowdies midfielder Frimpong scored his second of the night in the dying moments of the match to make it 6-4.
"This was not the end of the season that we were hoping for, either for us or our fans," closed Hill. "I can't praise the fans enough for all their support both tonight and all season long."
Minnesota: Floyd Franks - 10th minute (assisted by Omar Daley)
Minnesota: Omar Daley - 17th minute
Tampa Bay: Luke Mulholland - 52nd minute (Penalty Kick)
Minnesota: Omar Daley - 60th minute
Tampa Bay: Aaron Pitchkolan (Own Goal)
Minnesota: Pablo Campos - 71st minute (Assisted by Lucas Rodriguez)
Minnesota: Omar Daley - 83rd minute (Assisted by Mike Ambersley)
Tampa Bay: Evans Frimpong - 85th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Minnesota: Pablo Campos - 90th minute (Penalty Kick)
Tampa Bay: Evans Frimpong - 90th minute (Assisted by Luke Mulholland)
Tampa Bay: Carl Cort - 33rd minute
Tampa Bay: Luke Mulholland - 58th minute
Minnesota: Pablo Campos - 90+ minute
GK Diego Restrepo (Andrew Fontein 90'); D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Takuya Yamada, D Andres Arango, D Raphael Cox; M Keith Savage (Georgi Hristov 61'), M Stuart Campbell, M Luke Mulholland; F Lucky Mkosana, F Etienne Barbara (Evans Frimpong 75'), F Carl Cort
GK Mitch Hildenbrandt; D Kevin Venegas, D Aaron Pitchkolan (Captain), D Cristiano Dias, D Justin Davis; M Lucas Rodriguez (Mike Ambersley 72'), M Kentaro Takada, M Miguel Ibarra (Travis Wall 85'), M Floyd Franks, M Omar Daley (Nate Polak 83'); F Pablo Campos
2014 Season Tickets
For more information or to order 2014 season tickets, fans can e-mail email@example.com or call (813) 287-1539. For season ticket prices and a seating chart for Al Lang Stadium click here. Single-game tickets will go on sale at a later date.