ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 12, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies were held to a 1-1 draw by the Indy Eleven on Saturday night in their regular season home finale, setting up an interesting final match of the season next weekend in Hartford.
Sebastian Guenzatti scored from the penalty spot with one of the final kicks of the first half, but Dane Kelly equalized for the visitors in the 72nd minute.
With another point in the standings, the Rowdies (16-7-10, 58 points) moved up one spot to fourth place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference standings, leapfrogging the idle New York Red Bulls II. The top four teams in the standings after next weekend will host their Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
New York finishes the season with matches at Birmingham Legion FC (10th place) and Loudoun United FC (15th place.) The Rowdies will visit the Hartford Athletic (17th place) next Saturday. Indy holds a two-point edge in third place and finishes the year at home against Swope Park Rangers (18th place.)
“I think it’s there for everyone to see, the performance we put on tonight,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “But we’re getting to the stage of the season where it’s all about results. Tonight we ended up with a tie and at this stage of the season, there’s such a fine balance to be had. Yes, you obviously want to perform well because it gives you much more opportunity to win, but then you’ve just got to get the job done. We fell short."
By all measures, the Rowdies played more than well enough to win.
Indy, fighting to hold its seed and having lost four consecutive matches away from home, came to St. Petersburg to play compactly at the back and hold out for a draw.
The Rowdies outshot their visitors 24-5 and held 61 percent of possession, but were stymied by a strong defensive performance from the Eleven.
Tampa Bay’s breakthrough came just before halftime, when Indy captain Paddy Barrett blocked a Lucky Mkosana cross into his arm, conceding a penalty kick in stoppage time. Guenzatti beat goalkeeper Jordan Farr to score his 18th goal of the season.
The Rowdies pushed hard to extend their lead in the second half, but Indy ultimately scored against the run of play, with Dane Kelly leveling the match in the 72nd minute on an Eleven counterattack.
Tampa Bay will now wait to see New York’s result in Birmingham on Wednesday night before next weekend’s must-win match in Hartford.
Tampa Bay: Sebastian Guenzatti - 45+6 minute (penalty kick)
Indy: Dane Kelly - 72nd minute (assisted by Tyler Pasher)
Indy: Paddy Barrett - 64th minute
Tampa Bay: Lucky Mkosana - 64th minute
Indy: Dane Kelly - 88th minute
Tampa Bay: Malik Johnson - 90+2 minute
Tampa Bay: GK John McCarthy; D Tarek Morad, Pape Diakite, Caleb Richards; M Malik Johnson, Kwadwo Poku, Andrew Tinari (Yann Ekra 73'), Jordan Doherty, Leo Fernandes (Afrim Taku 23'); F Sebastian Guenzatti (c), Lucky Mkosana (Juan Tejada 82')
Indy: GK Jordan Farr; D Karl Ouimette, Paddy Barrett (c), Mitch Osmond, Ayoze; M Nico Matern, Kenney Walker (Matt Watson 59'), Ilija Ilic (Tyler Pasher 59'), Tyler Gibson; F Dane Kelly (Eugene Starikov 89'), Cristian Novoa