ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 1, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell short of clinching their entry to the USL Cup Playoffs on Saturday night with a 1-1 draw at home against the Bethlehem Steel FC, but the Rowdies can still get their ticket to the postseason Sunday.
Here’s Three Things from the match…
1. Playoff implications
The Rowdies arrived at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night with the knowledge that a win over Bethlehem would see them secure their first berth in the playoffs since 2012.
Head Coach Stuart Campbell made three changes to his team from Wednesday’s 2-2 draw in Bethlehem, restoring Joe Cole to the lineup, as well as handing out starts to Keith Savage (in place of the injured Michael Nanchoff) and Darwin Jones (in place of the suspended Georgi Hristov).
Ultimately, the Rowdies’ performance wasn’t enough to get the win, but Tampa Bay can still clinch its playoff berth Sunday if Orlando City B fails to beat the Richmond Kickers in Virginia. Kickoff of that match is at 5 p.m.
The fight for seeding remains tight.
With another point in hand, the Rowdies remain in fourth place, one point behind the Charleston Battery in third and two points behind the Charlotte Independence in second. Tampa Bay has a game in hand over Charlotte and will have one over the Battery after it plays in Ottawa on Sunday afternoon.
2. Guenzatti’s good week
Sebastian Guenzatti’s first goal for the Rowdies capped a very good week for the 26-year old Uruguayan.
Guenzatti’s 2016 season was cut short when he suffered a torn ACL while playing for the New York Cosmos on October 9 of last year.
After a successful rehabilitation, Guenzatti signed with the Rowdies on July 31 and worked his way onto the field from the bench. His first four appearances for Tampa Bay all came as a substitute, totaling just 66 minutes of play.
On Wednesday in Bethlehem, Guenzatti was named to the starting lineup for the first time and played all 90 minutes. It was his first complete game since before his injury and earned him a round of applause in the locker room after the game.
Last night, it was Guenzatti who ended his week with the game-tying goal in the 80th minute, receiving a Darnell King pass and controlling it with his chest before firing it past Steel FC goalkeeper Jake McGuire and into the net.
3. A cagey affair
Perhaps it was because the teams had just played each other a few days prior, but Saturday’s match was on the verge of boiling over several times, particularly in the dying moments of the second half with so much at stake.
In total, nine yellow cards were handed out by referee Guido Gonzales Jr., six of which were shown to Bethlehem players. Still though, the match ended without a red card and both sides can move forward toward the postseason.