ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 23, 2016) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ quest for the playoffs ended Saturday night with a 1-1 draw against the Ottawa Fury FC. Due to Rayo OKC’s 2-0 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Tampa Bay needed a win over the Fury FC to remain in postseason contention heading into next weekend’s regular season finale.
Now, a closer look at the match.
1. End of the road
The Rowdies did their best to earn a come-from-behind win and remain in postseason contention Saturday night, but, after tying the match in the 48th minute, were unable to score a second goal that would have sent them into next weekend with a chance.
With the result, Tampa Bay fell four points behind Rayo OKC with just three points left to claim, eliminating it from playoff contention. The fourth and final berth in The Championship, the NASL’s four-team postseason playoffs, will go to either Rayo OKC or Minnesota United FC. OKC has a three-point lead on the Loons, meaning if it earns a draw a win at home against the Indy Eleven next weekend, it will reach the playoffs as the fourth seed and visit the New York Cosmos in the semifinals.
2. Playing down a man
Tampa Bay was dealt an early blow when right back Darnell King was shown a straight red card and ejected from the match in the 26th minute for a foul on Ottawa’s Ryan Williams just outside the Rowdies’ 18-yard box.
Watching the Rowdies from then on, you wouldn’t have guessed they were down to 10 men. Tampa Bay controlled long periods of the match, despite the man disadvantage, and scored the shorthanded goal in the 48th minute.
With the man advantage for more than an hour, including a long 10 minutes of first half stoppage time, Ottawa held an edge in possession, but the Rowdies still threatened often enough in batches to win the match with better shot conversion.
“(A lack of resiliency) hasn’t been a problem for us,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “The spirit, togetherness and attitude of the players day in and day out has been great. We’ve had so many knocks this season — I’ve never seen a season like it — but the players always just kept coming back for more.”
The imbalance was resolved in the 89th minute when Ottawa’s Eddie Edward was dismissed from the match with a second yellow card, but the red card still had some work to do on the night, being shown to Georgi Hristov in stoppage time, ensuring Tampa Bay would finish the game with just nine players.
3. No update yet on Avila
The Rowdies have offered no update yet on the injury sustained by midfielder Eric Avila late in the first half of Saturday night’s match.
Avila was injured in a tackle by Ottawa’s Onua Obasi and departed the match on a stretcher after an eight-minute delay in the match.
In his postgame press conference, Stuart Campbell revealed that he believed Avila sustained a leg fracture of some type, but details have not been confirmed yet.
Thank you for all the prayers & kind words