MONTCLAIR, N.J. (July 29, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies unbeaten road streak is over. Tampa Bay nearly made it to August without a road loss despite starting the season earlier than ever before with a road game on March 9. Nonetheless, the Rowdies still hold onto first place in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference as the calendar flips to August.
Here’s Three Things from the match…
1. A series of unfortunate events
Tampa Bay trailed 1-0 in the 33rd minute when pressure from Rowdies captain Sebastian Guenzatti forced Red Bulls center back Sean Nealis to cough the ball up on the edge of his own box. Guenzatti ran onto the ball and took an immediate shot with his right foot on a golden scoring chance only for New York goalkeeper Evan Louro to race off his lane and make a huge save.
No big deal, right? It’s a missed chance but the Rowdies still have an hour to turn the deficit around get a result.
Well, not exactly, because less than one minute later New York was celebrating its second goal and the Rowdies would never find a way back into the match.
The entire sequence, in real time, is below. It’s impossible to know how the game would have ended had Louro not denied Guenzatti, but it was certainly a demoralizing blow to not convert that scoring chance and then concede in such quick succession.
2. Two mistakes
After the end of the match, Rowdies center back Tarek Morad was the first to stand up and accept responsibility for the loss having made two mistakes that led to Red Bulls goals.
In the 17th minute, he under hit a back pass to goalkeeper Macklin Robinson that pulled the goalkeeper into no man’s land and was intercepted by Red Bulls forward Mathias Jorgensen. In the 34th minute, Morad got turned around by Jorgensen, letting the Danish forward receive a through ball uncontested for the game’s second goal.
It was far from Morad’s best performance, but there’s no reason to think he won’t learn from the mistakes and continue to excel the way he has all season. Pape Diakite made a similar mistake against Ottawa on June 29, allowing Christiano Francois to steal the ball off his feet and score, but Diakite has bounced back fine in the month since.
It’s just the latest is a series of atypical and largely unrepeatable goals the Rowdies have conceded in recent months. The first few were explored here.
3. Checking in on the table
While a loss to New York stings, the Rowdies can still find joy sitting atop the Eastern Conference by two points heading into next weekend’s visit to Charleston. The Rowdies were once again without John McCarthy, sidelined by a small knock and key playmaker Andrew Tinari. Tampa Bay’s second-leading goalscorer Juan Tejada was on the bench for this match as he had only returned from national team duty with Panama the night before and hadn’t trained with the Rowdies for two weeks.
With August just around the corner, the Rowdies fight themselves in a tight fight for playoff seeding with home games on the line. The top 10 in the East are far from decided but, at this point, it’s hard to imagine the Rowdies falling out of the playoffs considering they’ve been beaten only twice in 21 matches. Only Phoenix Rising FC, the West leader, has yet to lose for a third time this season.