ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Juan Tejada struck early in the Tampa Bay Rowdies home opener on Saturday night at Al lang Stadium, setting the stage for a 2-0 victory over the visiting Indy Eleven in front of 5,192 home supporters.
Tejada and the Rowdies were hot out of the gate, building to a goal as the clock struck 34 seconds. Rowdies captain Sebastian Guenzatti had a deft touch to control the ball and push past a defender on the right wing before feeding Tejada into space. As fast as Tejada’s tally was, his teammate Lucky Mkosana’s 32-second goal during the 2019 season still stands as the fastest goal in Rowdies history.
Guenzatti looked for goal himself in the 9th minute when he backheeled a pass from Sebastian Dalgaard toward the near post but Indy’s keeper Elliot Panicco was up to the task of denying the Rowdies captain. Panicco made another stop in the 18th minute, rushing off his line to cut down Dalgaard’s angle as the right wingback drove toward goal.
The Rowdies continued to dictate the tempo of the match but were unable to find the back of the net again until the 51st minute. Leo Fernandes initiated the sequence when he drove toward the end line and lifted a pass across goal for Tejada at the back post. Tejada headed the service in the direction of Jake LaCava, who hit a one-timed shot past Panicco for his first Rowdies goal.
Indy hit another setback in the 59th minute. Raul Aguilera was sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a harsh challenge on Lewis Hilton. Going down to ten men was too high a hill for Indy to climb, although Jared Timmer did test Rowdies keeper CJ Cochran late with a header off a corner kick. However, Cochran made the necessary stop to secure his first clean sheet as a Rowdies player.
The Rowdies have a quick turnaround as they travel to face Atlanta United II on Wednesday night before returning to Al Lang next Saturday, March 26 to battle Hartford Athletic FC Tickets for the match can be purchased here.
TBR – Juan Tejada (Sebastian Guenzatti) 1’
TBR – Jake LaCava (Juan Tejada) 51’