JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (October 30, 2016) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies closed their 2016 season with a wild game, surrendering a pair of late goals to lose 3-2 to the Jacksonville Armada FC at Community First Park on Sunday afternoon.
Tampa Bay lead 2-0 after 20 minutes after goals scored by Martin Vingaard and Keith Savage and still led 2-1 past the 80th minute, but two Armada FC goals within a minute of one another sent the Rowdies into the offseason with a loss.
Jacksonville’s Alhassane Keita pulled the Armada FC within one before halftime, and then had goals scored in the 82nd and 83rd minutes by Jemal Johnson and Zach Steinberger, respectively, to pull ahead.
Neither side was in postseason contention coming into the match, but the Rowdies still came in with the expectation of winning.
“We made a lot of changes, but I still expected to go out there and get the result we wanted,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We wanted to finish the season with a victory.”
The Rowdies were handcuffed by a number of key absences and also gave goalkeeper Chris Glodack his professional debut in the match. Tampa Bay’s top three offensive players this season, Joe Cole, Georgi Hristov and Eric Avila, were all unavailable for the match. Right back Darnell King was also unavailable for the Rowdies.
Tampa Bay’s goals were both well taken, including a crazy finish from distance.
Vingaard’s goal came early, in just the fourth minute, and was a sublime finish. Vingaard spotted Jacksonville goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo too far off his line and chipped from 40 yards out to put the Rowdies ahead.
Savage’s goal, his third of the season, was a perfect header from a Michael Nanchoff free kick.
“Martin’s goal was a great one,” Campbell said. “And Keith’s was a very nice header. It was about time we scored one from a set piece.”
Even with the abnormal lineup, Tampa Bay was still just eight minutes away from closing the season with a 2-1 win before the trouble started.
A Jacksonville corner kick was cleared partially by the Rowdies in the 82nd minute, but fell to the Armada FC’s Jemal Johnson 12 yards out from goal. With time to pick his spot, Johnson played a delicate chip that looped over Glodack’s head and toward the goal. Tampa Bay’s Walter Ramirez tried to clear it off the line, but was unable.
Less than a minute later, directly from the restart, the Armada FC’s Derek Gebhard cut in from near the corner flag and found a streaking Steinberger for the go-ahead goal.
“The two goals that we conceded in about a minute, that’s extremely frustrating,” Campbell said. “The second goal came from a set piece that we should have defended better and then we just didn’t click back on in time for the third goal and it cost us.”
Rowdies: Martin Vingaard - 4th minute
Rowdies: Keith Savage - 19th minute (Assisted by Michael Nanchoff)
Jacksonville: Alhassane Keita - 29th minute (Assisted by Zach Steinberger)
Jacksonville: Jemal Johnson - 83rd minute
Jacksonville: Zach Steinberger - 84th minute (Assisted by Derek Gebhard)
Rowdies: Martin Vingaard - 45th minute
Jacksonville: Alex Dixon - 59th minute
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Chris Glodack; D Frankie Sanfilippo, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Neill Collins, Ben Sweat; M Juan Guerra, Keith Savage; M Michael Nanchoff, Freddy Adu, Martin Vingaard (Walter Ramirez 82'); F Tommy Heinemann (Carlos Preciado 79')
Jacksonville Armada FC XI (4-3-3): GK Miguel Gallardo; D Bryan Burke, Mechack Jerome, Tyler Ruthven, Matt Bahner; M Nicklas Maripuu (Derek Gebhard 80'), Pekka Lagerblom (c) (Jemal Johnson 69'), Kevan George; F Zach Steinberger, Alhassane Keita (Alex Dixon 45'), Charles Eloundou