Rowdies Drop 2-0 Decision To San Antonio Scorpions
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Tampa Bay Rowdies dropped their first points of the NASL Fall Season on Saturday night following a 2-0 loss to the league-leading San Antonio Scorpions at Al Lang Stadium.
The Rowdies fell behind in the 30th minute when Tomasz Zahorski redirected a corner kick into the net. The Rowdies pushed hard for an equalizer in the second half, but were ultimately caught out in stoppage time by a Sainey Touray goal to seal the scoreline.
Tampa Bay fielded an unchanged starting lineup from its 2-1 road win over the Indy Eleven on July 19 and started the match aggressively. Patrolling the right flank, Lucky Mkosana charged at Scorpions leftback Stephen DeRoux, forcing San Antonio goalkeeper Josh Saunders into making multiple saves to keep the Rowdies off the scoreboard in the opening 10 minutes. Saunders made his Scorpions debut on the night, playing for the first time since being loaned to San Antonio by MLS side New York City FC.
“I was absolutely delighted for the first 20 minutes,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “We created chances on goal, near misses and exciting moments, but then we got a little bit complacent when we failed to score.”
From there, San Antonio — coming off a 2-0 midweek win over the Carolina RailHawks — began to find its footing.
“We stopped doing the basic things well,” Hill said. “We stopped protecting the ball and we gave it away cheaply. Unforced errors created anxiety and they managed to score from one of those moments.”
In the 29th minute, Scorpions midfielder Rafael Castillo had a huge shot from outside the box that Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens got to on a full stretch, but he deflected the ball wide to hand San Antonio a corner kick on their attacking right. Castillo then took the corner and hit a long outswinger that found Julius James on the far side of the six-yard box. James headed the ball downward into the middle of the area and right into the path of Tomasz Zahorski, who stretched to toe poke the ball home before the in-form Pickens could react. Mkosana attempted to keep the ball out, but was unable.
The Rowdies have fallen behind in all three matches so far this Fall Season, but Saturday night was the first time they failed to turn the result around and win the match.
In the 60th minute, Georgi Hristov fed Casey Townsend a pass that Townsend smashed into the net, but the goal was waved off as offside.
Carl Cort, Brian Shriver and Evans Frimpong were all inserted into the match by Hill, but the Rowdies were unable to find a way past Saunders.
“Their goalkeeper was inspired and if that happens, we’re going to struggle,” Hill said. “We’re disappointed to concede the second goal because it flatters them slightly and makes it look like it’s been a more difficult night than it was.”
As time wound down and the Rowdies got more desperate, the Scorpions sat deeper in their own half, content to absorb the pressure and quickly counterattack, which is exactly what they did in stoppage time with Eric Hassli feeding Touray as he raced by the Rowdies’ backline to finish easily past Pickens.
Now, the Rowdies head south for a Coastal Cup matchup against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium on August 2. Tampa Bay will return home for a showdown with the New York Cosmos on August 16. For tickets, call (877)ROWDIES or click here.
San Antonio: Tomasz Zahorski - 30th minute (assisted by Julius James)
San Antonio: Sainey Touray - 90th minute (assisted by Eric Hassli)
Tampa Bay: Casey Townsend - 16th minute
Tampa Bay: JP Rodrigues - 18th minute
San Antonio: Trevin Casesar - 52nd minute
San Antonio: Tomasz Zahorski - 63rd minute
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 69th minute
San Antonio: Tomasz Zahorski - 81st minute
Tampa Bay: Tamika Mkandawire - 90th minute
Rowdies XI (4-4-2): GK Matt Pickens; D Frankie Sanfilippo (c), JP Rodrigues, Tamika Mkandawire, Anthony Wallace; M Lucky Mkosana (Brian Shriver 74'), Shane Hill, Darel Russell, Blake Wagner (Evans Frimpong 74'); F Casey Townsend (Carl Cort 64'), Georgi Hristov
Scorpions XI (4-4-2): GK Josh Saunders; D Jonathan Borrajo, Greg Janicki, Julius James, Stephen DeRoux; M Walter Restrepo, Josue Soto, Rafael Castillo, Billy Forbes (Danny Berrera 85'); F Trevin Caesar (Sainey Touray 58'), Tomasz Zahorski (Eric Hassli 80')