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Rowdies Draw 1-1 Against Valur FC

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BRADENTON, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies closed out their 2014 preseason with a spirited 1-1 draw against Icelandic top-flight club Valur FC at IMG Academy Stadium.

The Rowdies took a 1-0 lead just before the halftime break on an own goal created by Tampa Bay midfielder Anthony Wallace. Wallace’s corner kick was directed to Keith Savage before Mads Nielsen stepped in front and accidentally headed into his own net.

Valur FC equalized in the 77th minute on a penalty kick converted by Magnús Lúðvíksson.

“In a lot of ways, we got what we were looking for,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “Overall, I was happy with the progression our defense has had this preseason. I still think there’s more room for improvement, particularly when we’re under pressure. We don’t really clear our lines well enough and regroup.”

Playing with a full-strength lineup, the Rowdies had a dynamic attack in the first half, led by the three-pronged front line of Georgi Hristov, Brian Shriver and Evans Frimpong.

Shriver nearly scored in the 18th minute, running onto a through ball from midfield, but was just beaten to it by Valur goalkeeper Fjalar Þorgeirsson. Shriver was active late in the half, taking a shot that was forced out for a corner kick that led to the Valur own goal.

The Rowdies applied more pressure in the second half, with Hristov setting up Frimpong for a great chance just after the hour mark, but Frimpong’s effort went high. In the 68th minute, Darel Russell played Lucky Mkosana in on goal, but Mkosana’s shot was saved.

Newly-signed goalkeeper Matt Pickens was active breaking up Valur’s attack before the visitors could create shots.

“(Pickens) held the play out of our box for long periods,” Hill said. “From that perspective, things have improved.”

Now, the Rowdies look ahead to their regular season opener at Al Lang Stadium against FC Edmonton on April 12.

Scoring Summary
Rowdies: Mads Nielsen - 45th minute (Own Goal)
Valur FC: Magnus Ludviksson - 77th minute (Penalty Kick)

Caution Summary
Valur FC - James Hurst - 13th minute
Rowdies - Darel Russell - 63rd minute
Rowdies - Linval Lewis - 77th minute

Starting lineups
Tampa Bay Rowdies
GK Matt Pickens; D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain) (Jordan Gafa 38'), D Takuya Yamada (Linval Lewis 62'), D JP Rodrigues, D Blake Wagner (Shane Hill 46'); M Anthony Wallace, M Darel Russell, M Keith Savage (Casey Townsend 62'); F Evans Frimpong, F Georgi Hristov (Christophe Lallet 75'), F Brian Shriver (Lucky Mkosana 62')

Valur FC
GK Þorgeirsson; D Pálsson, D Hurst, D Eiríksson, D Nielsen; M Lárusson, M Sigurðsson, M Halldórsson, M Sigurðsson; F Geirsson, F Gunnarsson

Up Next
The Rowdies will kick off the 2014 NASL Season on Saturday, April 12 against FC Edmonton at downtown St. Petersburg Al Lang Stadium. With tickets going fast, fans can save money by purchasing single game tickets today by contacting the Rowdies’ front office at (877) ROWDIES (877.769.3437) or by clicking here .

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