ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 14, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies turned in a mixed bag performance Saturday night against two-time defending champion Louisville City FC, conceding late to draw 1-1 at Al Lang.
Here’s Three Things from the match…
1. McCarthy’s big night
On so many Sundays this year, the Moffitt Cancer Center Save of the Game has been kind of a letdown. Through five matches this year, Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy simply hadn’t had that much work to do. Last week against Hartford, he made a then-season-high five saves, but even those were soft shots hit more or less right at him. There haven’t really been any saves that would catch your eye.
At least there hadn’t been until last night.
McCarthy had what appeared to be his toughest night of the season, setting a new season-high with seven saves. Louisville gave McCarthy a real test, forcing him into several point-blank reaction saves. He put in an amazing performance and flirted what an unlikely clean sheet before eventually conceding in the 88th minute thanks in large part to some underwhelming defending in front of him.
His performance drew high praise from Head Coach Neill Collins.
“(John’s) shot-stopping tonight was fantastic,” Collins said. “I think from a lot of set pieces they caused us problems. In general play, we defended well. John stood up tall and made some fantastic saves.”
In his own postgame press conference, McCarthy was pretty honest about his feelings.
“I’m pretty pissed off right now,” he said. “I think in the second half they really took it to us. We did create some chances, which is a positive, but we should have been playing how they played for a little bit. That’s our style of play. I’m pretty frustrated but I thought overall it was a decent game.”
2. Tinari’s stunner
Rowdies midfielder Andrew Tinari scored his second goal in as many matches Saturday night, emphatically blasting from 22 yards off the inside of the post and into the net.
His goal against Hartford was probably not the prettiest one he’s scored in his career.
His goal last night was something else entirely.
Tinari received the ball from Yann Ekra in space a few yards outside the corner of the box. His initial thought was to play the ball to Leo Fernandes closer to goal, but Louisville’s defender dropped off to cover Fernandes, leaving Tinari in even more space.
It was enough space to take another touch or two before unleashing one of the more impressive goals we’ve seen at Al Lang Stadium in a while. Tinari said once he hit it, he knew it was going in.
3. End of the home stand
Tampa Bay would’ve had really high expectations for the now concluded three-game home stand. Opening up against Loudoun and Hartford offered two matches that would be tricky, but that the Rowdies ultimately would’ve been favored in. Had the Rowdies won both of those games, they would have then liked their chances to ride the momentum against a somewhat down Louisville City FC and a nine-point home stand was on the cards.
Instead, the Rowdies will take their five points from the three games and move on. Thanks to Saint Louis’s home loss to Birmingham on Saturday night, the Rowdies actually tightened the gap to first place, but that will make it feel like an even bigger missed opportunity to concede in the 88th minute and drop two points. Tampa Bay is still unbeaten this year.
Even though the Rowdies failed to beat Loudoun and Louisville, Collins said he likes a lot of what the team is doing and the growth is evident for all to see. Tampa Bay now heads into a slightly extended break before visiting Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday, March 24 and then hosting the Charlotte Independence on Saturday, March 27.