LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 26, 2019) — After a regular season that lasted 3,060 minutes, one bad minute in the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ USL Championship playoff opener saw Tampa Bay get eliminated in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with a 2-1 loss to Louisville City FC.
Tampa Bay conceded goals 75 seconds apart in the 23rd and 24th minutes, digging a hole too deep to escape from against the two-time defending champions on a wet, windy night at Louisville Slugger Field.
Sebastian Guenzatti gave the Rowdies a lifeline with a goal in the 80th minute and Tampa Bay had its chances to equalize late, but the Rowdies simply ran out of time.
The Rowdies entered Saturday night’s match as the No. 5 seed tasked with a challenge in handing Louisville its first-ever postseason loss in Louisville. With that in mind, the Rowdies started the match in a defensive mindset, hoping to keep the match 0-0 for as long as possible before opening up and pushing for a goal later in the match.
The plan worked for the opening 20 minutes, with neither side creating much offensively in difficult conditions.
Louisville took the advantage in the 23rd minute on a counterattack, when Rasmussen put a shot on target that may have been saved by Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy if not for a deflection off the foot of defender Caleb Richards.
It got worse quickly for the Rowdies, with Rasmussen striking again just 75 seconds later to double Louisville’s lead on a tap-in from short range.
Still down 2-0 midway through the second half, the Rowdies turned to their bench, bringing in offensive firepower in Juan Tejada and Zach Steinberger in the 62nd minute and Andrew Tinari in the 72nd.
Tampa Bay found its footing in the 80th minute when a good run from Kwadwo Poku freed the space for him to slip a simple through ball from Guenzatti, who struck it first time for his 19th goal of the year, cutting the Rowdies deficit to 2-1 with 10 minutes to go.
The Rowdies had chances to tie the match, with Zach Steinberger, Dom Oduro and Tarek Morad all having shots blocked, but Tampa Bay ultimately ran out of time.
Louisville: Magnus Rasmussen - 23rd minute (assisted by Niall McCabe)
Louisville: Magnus Rasmussen - 24th minute (assisted by Brian Ownby)
Tampa Bay: Sebastian Guenzatti - 80th minute (assisted by Kwadwo Poku)
Tampa Bay: Yann Ekra - 40th minute
Louisville: Brian Ownby - 56th minute
Tampa Bay: Pape Diakite - 70th minute
Rowdies: GK John McCarthy; D Tarek Morad, Pape Diakite, Caleb Richards; M Afrim Taku, Kwadwo Poku, Yann Ekra (Andrew Tinari 72'), Dom Oduro, Shawn Barry (Zach Steinberger 62'); F Sebastian Guenzatti (c), Lucky Mkosana (Juan Tejada 62')
Louisville: GK Chris Hubbard; D Oscar Jimenez, Sean Totsch, Paco Craig, Pat McMahon; M Devon Williams (c), Napo Matsoso, Magnus Rasmussen (Akil Watts 87'); F Niall McCabe, Brian Ownby (Paolo DelPiccolo 79'), Antoine Hoppenot (Luke Spencer 72')