Rowdies and Indy Eleven Draw 2-2 After Wild Closing Minutes
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies closed out the 2014 season with a wild couple of minutes at Al Lang Stadium. Goals in the 88th and 89th minutes, first by the Indy Eleven and then the Rowdies, saw the season end with a 2-2 draw in front of 6,377 fans on a chilly night in St. Petersburg.
The Rowdies led 1-0 at halftime, only for Indy to equalize in the 47th minute and then take a lead in the 88th minute. The Rowdies stormed back to close the season with a point courtesy of Amani Walker's game-tying goal just a minute later.
"I'm disappointed with the outcome tonight of a 2-all draw," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "We would have loved to send our great fans home with a victory which they deserved."
Rowdies midfielder Evans Frimpong put the Rowdies up 1-0 on the Eleven in the 17th minute. Frimpong scored both goals in last Saturday's 2-2 draw with the New York Cosmos, so at that point, Frimpong has scored each of the Rowdies' last three goals dating back to last week. Bulgarian forward Georgi Hristov collected his fourth assist of the season as he laid the ball off to Frimpong, advancing on goal from the right wing. Frimpong took one touch to set himself up for a shot, which bounced up and out of reach over Eleven goalkeeper Kristian Nicht before settling into the far netting of the goal.
The Rowdies' lead was nearly doubled in the 29th minute when Hristov sent in a cross from the right wing. Eleven captain Erick Norales met the cross at the far post and chested it just a few inches away from his own net to keep Tampa Bay's lead at 1-0.
Indy came out of the locker room fighting in the second half and it didn't take long for it to find its way back into the match. The Eleven sent in a corner kick in the 47th minute, which was initially cleared by the Rowdies defense, but only to just outside the 18-yard box. Indy midfielder Don Smart was quickest to react and blasted a first-time shot past Matt Pickens in Tampa Bay's net to level the match at 1-1.
The match stayed even at 1-1 for nearly the rest of the match before Jhulliam gave the Eleven a lead in the 88th minute. Victor Pineda's perfectly-timed pass saw Jhulliam beat the offside trap and find space behind the backline where he collected the ball and slid a shot underneath Pickens to put Indy ahead late.
"I'm delighted with the courage the players showed after going 2-1 down with three or four minutes left to go," Hill said. "They still were able to raise their game with Amani coming on and scoring a lovely goal for us to get us back in it."
Tampa Bay didn't give up though and Indy's lead didn't last long.
Rowdies left back Blake Wagner took a free kick in the 89th minute that found Amani Walker at the back post, but headed past Nicht to tie the match up again at 2-2 just before stoppage time for the last Rowdies goal of the season as the match ended 2-2.
"I'd like to thank the fans for coming out week in, week out and encouraging the guys with their singing and shouting irrespective of the scoreline."
Rowdies XI (4-4-2): GK Matt Pickens; D Frankie Sanfilippo (c), Tamika Mkandawire, Takuya Yamada, Blake Wagner; M Evans Frimpong, Keith Savage, Anthony Wallace, Brian Shriver (Lucky Mkosana 72'); F Luciano Olguin (Amani Walker 72'), Georgi Hristov
Indy Eleven XI (4-4-2): GK Kristian Nicht; D Marco Franco, Cory Miller, Erick Norales (c) (Fejiro Okiomah 77'), Jaime Frias; M Don Smart, Victor Pineda, Dylan Mares (Corby Moore 90'), Blake Smith (Jhulliam 71'); F Charlie Rugg, Mike Ambersley
Tampa Bay: Evans Frimpong - 17th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Indy: Don Smart- 47th minute
Indy: Jhulliam- 88th minute (Assisted by Victor Pineda)
Tampa Bay: Amani Walker- 89th minute (Assisted by Blake Wagner)
Indy: Cory Miller- 12th minute