NORMAN, Okla. (May 29, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies suffered their first defeat of 2019, coming up short in a wild 4-3 loss to OKC Energy FC in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
It was a strange match right from the start as kickoff was delayed nearly two-and-a-half hours due to inclement weather in the Oklahoma City area. After a long series of delays, the match finally kicked off at 9:54 p.m. local time, 10:54 p.m. in the Rowdies home time zone.
Already playing on short rest and having traveled halfway across the United States, Tampa Bay got off to a poor start as OKC’s Omar Gordon scored in just the second minute of play.
The Rowdies would rally back via goals from Brandon Allen and Antoine Hoppenot in the 20th and 24th minutes, respectively, to take a 2-1 lead but there were still plenty of goals to come.
Energy FC goals in the 27th and 32nd minutes made the score 3-2 in favor of the hosts after barely more than half an hour of play.
Allen notched his second goal of the night two minutes into the second half, but former Rowdies forward Deshorn Brown scored what stood up as the game-winner in the 60th minute.
Tampa Bay Head Coach Neill Collins rotated his squad heavily, with eight new starters from Tampa Bay’s win over Swope Park on Saturday night. Only Mohamed Kone, Caleb Richards and Kwadwo Poku retained their places. Malik Johnson earned his first start of the year but was forced out of the match after only 16 minutes by a facial injury that didn’t even draw a whistle.
As the Rowdies tried to chase a third equalizer on the night, it was clear that fatigue started to set in as the play got sloppier and sloppier. Tampa Bay had a few scoring chances down the final stretch of the match but failed to convert.
The match ended at 11:49 p.m. local time, nearly 1 a.m. for the Rowdies.
It was an uncharacteristic performance for the Rowdies, who had conceded only five goals in 13 matches in all competitions prior to Tuesday night.
Now eliminated from the Open Cup, the Rowdies will head to Birmingham to take on Legion FC on Saturday night in USL Championship action. In league play, the Rowdies are the lone unbeaten left in the 36-team league and they sit atop the Eastern Conference with a four-point gap to second place. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night.
Energy FC: Omar Gordon - 2nd minute (assisted by Callum Ross)
Tampa Bay: Brandon Allen - 20th minute (penalty kick)
Tampa Bay: Antoine Hoppenot - 24th minute (assisted by Zach Steinberger)
Energy FC: Alexy Bosetti - 27th minute
Energy FC: Christian Eissele - 32nd minute
Tampa Bay: Brandon Allen - 47th minute (assisted by Zach Steinberger)
Energy FC: Deshorn Brown - 60th minute (assisted by Alexy Bosetti)
Energy FC: Alex Bosetti - 30th minute
Tampa Bay: Kwadwo Poku - 34th minute
Rowdies XI (3-5-2): GK Chris Konopka; D Mohamed Kone, Pape Diakite, Ryan Felix (Leo Fernandes 76'); M Malik Johnson (David Najem 16'), Kwadwo Poku, Zach Steinberger, Dom Oduro, Caleb Richards; F Brandon Allen, Antoine Hoppenot (Leon Taylor 84')
Energy FC XI: GK Bryan Byars; D Mike Da Fonte, Christian Ibeagha (c), Amer Sasivarevic (Cordell Cato 76'), Mekeil Williams, Alvin Jones; M Callum Ross, Rafael Garcia; F Alexy Bosetti (Je-Vaughn Watson 84'), Christian Eissele (Deshorn Brown 44'), Omar Gordon