ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (May 14, 2017) — Who else but Georgi Hristov deserved to score the goal that put the Tampa Bay Rowdies ahead of Louisville City in an eventual 2-0 win Saturday night? On the night the Bulgarian celebrated a new record, it couldn’t have been scripted better.
Here’s Three Things from Saturday’s win…
1. Georgi the legend
Sitting on the bench in the first half, Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov knew that if he got the chance to play, he would make an impact on the match one way or another.
“I worked on the things I need to work on,” Hristov said. “I knew I was going to make an impact if I came on. I know that sounds a little cocky, but I just felt this way. I wasn’t sure if I was going to score a goal, but I knew I needed to make an impact.”
Hristov didn’t have to wait too long for his chance, entering the match in the 53rd minute. It was the earliest non-injury substitution Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell has made all season.
Six minutes after crossing the white line, Hristov cut in from the left wing and curled a right-footed shot around Tim Dobrowolski into the side netting for a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead.
Of course, it was a night in celebration of Hristov, who became the Rowdies’ Modern Era appearance leader by making his 121st appearance for the Rowdies, passing Takuya Yamada at the top of the list. Hristov is also the Modern Era’s leading scorer with 43 goals.
2. Home sweet home
The Rowdies’ schedule so far this season has been frontloaded with home games and the Rowdies have done a great job of taking advantage of that with five wins in six matches at Al Lang Stadium this season.
Last year, Tampa Bay’s fifth home league win came in the Rowdies’ 11th home game of the season on August 27. This season, it came before Mother’s Day.
Saturday’s win came in a slightly different fashion than those that preceded it, with a talented Louisville side clearly desiring to compete, rather than sit in a defensive shell and try to hold out for a draw.
For the first time all season accordion to Opta statistics, the Rowdies saw less possession than their opponents and completed fewer passes.
3. Pickens on the spot
Matt Pickens didn’t have a ton to do Saturday night, with Louisville registering just one shot on target, but the one save he made to keep his third clean sheet was a beauty.
The save came at a crucial point in the match. Tampa Bay had just taken a 1-0 lead and had all the momentum, but a Louisville goal at the point could’ve drastically changed the course of the night.