ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (August 10, 2019) – The Tampa Bay Rowdies were handed a home defeat Saturday night, falling 1-0 to Birmingham Legion FC in their third defeat of the 2019 season.
This will be the first time since May 11-12 that the Rowdies (13-3-7, 46 points) are not in first place in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference at the end of the weekend.
Tampa Bay was coming off a 5-0 road win over the Charleston Battery last weekend and looked to be picking up right where it left off in the opening 15 minutes of the match, pinning Birmingham (7-10-5, 26 points) deep in its own end.
The Rowdies had shots in the 8th, 10th and 13th minutes, but failed to score.
“I think we stopped doing the real basics that are a real staple of everything we’ve been good at,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “Credit to Birmingham. They probably feel they survived an onslaught, came through that and should have scored their own goals before halftime.
“I really thought going into halftime at 0-0, we could have learned from the let off and gone on to take on the second half,” Collins said. “But we didn’t and we got punished. We never got back into it. It’s a big learning lesson for everyone tonight.”
Once the opening quarter of an hour passed, Birmingham found its footing and bullied the Rowdies a little bit, earning only 36 percent of the possession but proving extremely dangerous on the counter attack.
With the Rowdies backline playing extremely high in possession, Legion FC earned numerous one-on-one chances against Tampa Bay goalkeeper Macklin Robinson, but Robinson was up the task. He made heroic saves to deny breakaways three times in the first half.
Birmingham opened the second half strong, with Eddie Opoku firing a laser into the top of the net from a sharp angle in the 49th minute to give Legion FC a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay tried to get back into the match but was ultimately unable.
The Rowdies best scoring chance in the second half came in the 75th minute when forward Juan Tejada put an acrobatic shot on target, but Tampa Bay was unable to break through.
Robinson made seven difficult saves on the night in a strong performance despite the defeat.
“We had plenty of chances,” Robinson said. “Their goal and opportunities came from our mistakes so it’s one of those things where we still think it comes down to us. It’s an unfortunate result.”
The Rowdies will now have to think about this defeat for 11 days as they’re heading into a bye weekend before returning to action on the road against North Carolina FC on August 21. Tampa Bay will then return home on short rest to host Memphis 901 FC on August 24. Tickets for that match are available here.
Birmingham: Eddie Opoku - 49th minute (assisted by Anderson Asiedu)
Birmingham: Brian Wright - 66th minute
Birmingham: JJ Williams - 70th minute
Tampa Bay: Pape Diakite - 83rd minute
Birmingham: Kyle Culbertson - 88th minute
Rowdies XI (3-5-2): GK Macklin Robinson; D Tarek Morad, Pape Diakite, Caleb Richards; M Malik Johnson, Jordan Doherty, Zach Steinberger (Juan Tejada 46'), Kwadwo Poku, Leo Fernandes; F Sebastian Guenzatti (c) (Jaime Siaj 74'), Lucky Mkosana (Andrew Tinari 59')
Birmingham XI (4-4-2): GK Matt Van Oekel; D Kyle Fisher, Akeem Ward, Mathieu Laurent, Kyle Culbertson; M Anderson Asiedu, Prosper Kasim (Razak Cromwell 79'), Eric Avila (Joseph Holland 86'), Eddie Opoku (Gael Mabiala 90+3'); F Brian Wright, JJ Williams