The Tampa Bay Rowdies were dealt their second defeat of the USL Championship season on Wednesday night, battling down a man against Memphis 901 FC for the last half hour at AutoZone Park before ultimately falling 3-1.
“We were victims of our own mistakes,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “…I think you’ve got to look at the goals we lost, those were obviously like school boy errors. But at 2-1 in the second half, if we keep 11 men on the field, I think we go on and we certainly don’t lose the game on the basis of how the boys played in the second half.”
Memphis landed the first blow only 23 seconds into the match. After swiftly dispossessing the Rowdies on the right wing, Memphis drove into the final third and took advantage of numbers in the box with crisp passing to set up Phillip Goodrum for the finish.
Tampa Bay answered immediately in the 3rd minute through a stunning free kick from Lewis Hilton. The Rowdies midfielder hit a curling free kick from 25 yards out directly into the top corner, glancing off the crossbar and post before crossing the line. Unfortunately for Hilton, a knock picked up a few minutes following his thrilling strike eventually forced him to exit in the 38th minute. Junior Etou stepped in off the bench to fill Hilton’s midfield role.
Memphis threatened from a set piece as well in the 10th minute. Aaron Molloy struck an attempt from the left edge of the box meant for the back post, but Rowdies keeper Raiko Arozarena dove to his left to parry the effort away.
Neither side held a clear advantage the rest of the half, yet the hosts found a way to retake the lead just moments before the halftime whistle. After drawing a foul, Mollow delivered a free kick on a platter for Derek Dodson to head home in front of goal.
“I’m probably most angry about the second goal,” said Collins. “We just didn’t deal with a long ball, gave away a cheap foul, and we don’t pick up in the box and we get punished. Getting in at halftime one-all, I’d have been pretty pleased because I think we would have only been better from there.”
Tampa Bay went into the break down a goal with three players carrying yellow cards. One of those came back to cost them dearly. In the 57th minute, Steevan Dos Santos picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Graham Smith. As Dos Santos went in for a shot at the top of the box, Smith stepped in and cleared the ball away. Unable to abort his shot attempt in time, Dos Santos clattered into Smith to earn his second book and reduce the Rowdies to ten men.
The Rowdies continued to press the rest of the way despite being down a man. Substitute Kyle Greig put a promising effort on target as he got his head on the end of teasing Leo Fernandes cross in the 71st minute, but keeper Trey Muse made the stop. As the Rowdies pressed higher up the field, Memphis finally used the man advantage to double the lead in the 85th minute. Minutes after entering the match off the bench, Chris Allan capped off a counter attack with a finish as the Rowdies scrambled to recover in the box.
Next up, the Rowdies return home to face one of the Western Conference’s top teams, San Diego Loyal.
“There’s no respite. We’re gonna have to lick our wounds quickly and get back at it,” said Collins. “The thing our boys and our fans should be positive on is the way we played with ten men was inspiring. The boys showed a good mentality to keep pushing because at that point at the end of a really long road trip we could have backed off and made it a really long night, but we didn’t. We put them under a lot of pressure. If we take that kind of heart and urgency out there on the field on Saturday night, we’ll be fine.”
Tickets for Saturday’s Match can be purchased here or by calling the Rowdies ticket office at 727-222-2000.
MEM – Phillip Goodrum (Jeremy Kelly) 1’
TBR – Lewis Hilton 3’
MEM – Derek Dodson (Aaron Molloy) 45+3’
MEM – Chris Allan (Laurent Kissiedou) 85
Rowdies: Arozarena; Wyke, Antley, Guillen; Harris (Mehl, 67′), Ekra (Scarlet, 45′), Areman (LaCava, 66′), Hilton (Etou, 38′), Fernandes; Dos Santos, Guenzatti (Greig, 66′)
Memphis: Muse; Buckmaster, Seagrist, Smith, Logue; Paul, Kissiedou (Carroll, 89′), Molloy, Kelly (Allan, 84′), Dodson (Fernandes, 73′), Goodrum (Kizza, 84′)