ST. PETERSBURG, FL – The Tampa Bay Rowdies 2023 U.S. Open Cup run came to a close on Wednesday night at Al Lang Stadium, with the Rowdies falling 1-0 to Houston Dynamo FC. Despite dictating much of the play in the second half, Houston was able to ride out a result to advance to the Open Cup Round of 32.
“We did pretty much everything but put the ball in the net,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “We need to take care of that part. That’s the biggest frustration tonight. I’ve gone away from so many games this year very, very frustrated and at times angry. Tonight I go away very, very positive, but also frustrated. Because that is not a performance we should not be coming off a loss from. We do not want that feeling. But we can work on what we’ve seen tonight.”
Midfielder Jordan Doherty nearly put the Rowdies 15 minutes into the match when his low, left-footed strike from the top of the box clipped the far post to stay out of the net.
The Rowdies continued to press the visitors and did well limiting their opportunities in the final third until the 43rd minute. Catching the Rowdies on the counter, Houston was able to find space down the middle of the field for Brooklyn Raines to drive and slip the ball past keeper Connor Sparrow.
“It’s a gut shot going into halftime when it could be nil-nil and you know you’re in the game, and you’re on top of it,” said defender Conner Antley. “I think back to the game on Sunday in San Diego. When you concede right before halftime it changes the momentum. You think you’re defending well and then that happens… I think we deserved a bit more but that’s not always how the game works.”
Down a goal, the Rowdies pushed hard to find an equalizer in the closing second half. They created their fair share of chances. Cal Jennings, Charlie Dennigs, Lucky Mkosana, and Forrest Lasso all found themselves in the right spot inside the box to pose a threat in the final 20 minutes, but their attempts were all off the mark, saved, or deflected out of danger.
“As a collective, we all just need to be positive in that final third,” said Collins. “We need to make it happen by being positive. I think we showed a lot of positivity in other areas.. The best thing tonight was we created real good opportunities, and that’s where goals come from.”
The Rowdies return to USL Championship action this Saturday with a road trip to face Detroit City FC at Keyworth Stadium. Tampa Bay will hope to build on the positives from the performance against Houston and take that Detroit as the focus shifts full to the remainder of the league season.
“The one thing that has got to be there when you play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies is intensity,” said Collins. “It doesn’t matter what you do, what formation, where you’re playing; If you don’t bring the intensity you can’t play the way we want to play. Tonight we brought the intensity. It was a much improved performance. More of that and we can work on other things… I guarantee if we play like that the rest of the season, we’ll win more than we lose.
Fans can catch the action at the official watch party at Big Storm Brewing’s Clearwater taproom. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET, but the watch party festivities start at 3:15 p.m. Click here for more info and to RSVP for the watch party.
HOU – Raines, 43rd minute
TBR: Sparrow, Antley, Lasso, Guillen, Dalgaard, Doherty, Ekra, Dennis, Johnson, Schroter, Williams