ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 1, 2017) — An explosive Tampa Bay Rowdies team ran riot over visiting Toronto FC II in a 4-0 thumping at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night, putting in a dominant performance to climb to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
The Rowdies now have two wins from two matches in the United Soccer League and have yet to concede a goal.
Damion Lowe, Georgi Hristov, Joe Cole and Deshorn Brown were all on target as the Tampa Bay rolled to victory.
“We were happy with the result and the performance from last week and we just talking about building on it,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We want to make this place a fortress. We want to make teams hate to come here.”
Campbell fielded an unchanged starting lineup from opening day’s 1-0 win over Orlando City B and his team immediately settled into a groove and took the match to TFC II.
Damion Lowe opened the scoring in the 12th minute, heading in a cross from Michael Nanchoff.
Once the first goal went in, it was all Rowdies.
Nanchoff has another assist in the 20th minute, sending a low pass forward that was smartly dummied by Leo Fernandes before reaching Hristov, who was unmarked with only Reds goalkeeper Mark Pais to beat. The Bulgarian calmly finished for his second goal of the young season.
Cole wrapped up a devastating 10-minute stretch with his first goal of the year in the 22nd minute, putting the Rowdies up 3-0 early. Marcel Schäfer provided the assist on Cole’s goal.
“We played really well last week and we played well tonight,” Cole said. “The difference was we put the ball in the back of the net. It’s a good start for us. It’s great that the crowd turned out tonight. We want to put on a show and get the whole city behind us. You can’t do much more than score four goals.”
Playing from such a huge hole, TFC II wasn’t quite up for the task. The Reds’ only shot on goal came in the 78th minute on a Tsubasa Endoh free kick that Rowdies goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald collected comfortably.
Deshorn Brown completed the 4-0 scoreline in the 70th minute, scoring just four minutes into his Rowdies debut. Brown finished from close range after Hristov got a touch on a low Schäfer cross from the left wing.
On the night, the Rowdies out-passed TFC II by a whopping 594 to 380 advantage and outshot the Reds 16-9, with nine of those shots being on target for the Rowdies.
“Defending starts from the front and the front two (Hristov and Cole) set it all off tonight,” Campbell said after his teams’ second-consecutive clean sheet. “It filters back through the midfield, the back four and the goalkeeper. They’ve been great. They’re desperate to keep a clean sheet and it’s something we spoke about at halftime.”
Tampa Bay will go for three wins from three games next Saturday, April 8, when it welcomes old foe Ottawa Fury FC to Al Lang Stadium for the teams’ first clash in the USL era. Stick around after the match for post-game fireworks! For tickets, call (727) 222-2000 or click here.
Rowdies: Damion Lowe - 12th minute (Assisted by Michael Nanchoff)
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 20th minute (Assisted by Michael Nanchoff)
Rowdies: Joe Cole - 22nd minute (Assisted by Marcel Schäfer)
Rowdies: Deshorn Brown - 70th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Toronto: Liam Fraser - 79th minute
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Darnell King, Damion Lowe, Neill Collins, Luke Boden; M Martin Vingaard, Marcel Schäfer; M Michael Nanchoff (Darwin Jones 71'), Joe Cole (c) (Deshorn Brown 66'), Leo Fernandes (Alex Morrell 81'); F Georgi Hristov
Toronto FC II XI (3-5-2): GK Mark Pais; D Jason Hernandez, Brandon Aubrey, Lars Eckenrode (Brandon Onkony 20'); M Liam Fraser, Brian James (c), Luca Uccello, Tsubasa Endoh, Anthony Osorio; F Ryan Telfer (Sergio Camargo 71'), Ben Spencer