MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (March 18, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies were cruising through their preseason finale against The Miami FC on Saturday morning until an ugly two minutes ruined the scoreline in an eventual 3-0 loss.
Tampa Bay controlled huge stretches of the match and the Rowdies kept Miami goalkeeper Daniel Vega much busier than Miami kept Rowdies goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, but two goals in two minutes, then a penalty kick seven minutes later left the Rowdies on the wrong end of a scoreline that flattered Miami.
“It’s a very flattering score for Miami,“ Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “For 88 minutes, it was a good performance by us. We dominated a really good team and created more than enough chances, but then there were two crazy minutes.”
In the 67th minute, Miami’s Stefano Pinho pounced on a loose touch in the Rowdies’ defensive ranks to bear down one-on-one against Fitzgerald. A minute later, Kwadwo Poku picked off another soft pass in the Rowdies’ end and fed Pinho for his second goal in two minutes.
“The first goal was a big deflection that ended up with one of our players basically assisting their goal, which can happen from time to time,” Campbell said. “But the biggest disappointment is to go on and concede a second right away. That’s a sucker punch. We fell behind against the run of play when we were the team in the ascendency. We have to be more disciplined in that situation.”
Tampa Bay’s starters, which mostly lasted the full 90 minutes in the final preseason game before next week’s season opener, showed themselves well.
After a few half-chances early on, including a Martin Vingaard rocket of a volley from 25 yards out in the 30th minute, the Rowdies really started to turn up the pressure.
In the 32nd minute, Joe Cole took a shot that Vega saved, but spilled a rebound. Tampa Bay’s Deshorn Brown was there to pounce on the rebound, but Vega made a point-blank save to keep the match level at 0-0.
Eight minutes later, Michael Nanchoff whipped in a perfect free kick from the right wing that Leo Fernandes pushed just wide of the post.
Just after halftime, Neill Collins found space for a free header six yards from goal, but his header sailed over the crossbar.
Tampa Bay had shots in each of the 64th, 65th and 66th minutes, but Vega made the save at each opportunity.
Soon after Miami’s two goals in two minutes, the home side was awarded a penalty kick that Enzo Rennella converted to push the score to 3-0 in the 75th minute.
“It was a very good performance, yet we lost 3-0,” Campbell said. “It’s preseason and I got more than what I wanted from the team because they really played a good game apart from those two minutes. But preseason or not, you still want to win and we didn’t do that so it wasn’t enough. It may not be such a bad thing in the end because there will be no complacency from the team going into the season opener.”
The Rowdies are now just one week away from the start of the USL regular season on Saturday, March 25 against Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium. For tickets, call (727) 222-2000 or click here.
Miami FC: Stefano Pinho - 67th minute
Miami FC: Stefano Pinho - 68th minute (assisted by Kwadwo Poku)
Miami FC: Enzo Rennella - 75th minute (penalty kick)
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Darnell King (Kyle Porter 77'), Damion Lowe, Tamika Mkandawire, Luke Boden; M Martin Vingaard (Justin Chavez 72'), Michael Nanchoff; M Darwin Jones (Georgi Hristov 18'), Joe Cole, Leo Fernandes; F Deshorn Brown
Miami FC XI (4-4-2): GK Daniel Vega; D Blake Smith, Mason Trafford, Rhett Bernstein, Hunter Freeman; M Richie Ryan, Michel, Mike Lahoud, Kwadwo Poku; F Stefano Pinho, Jaime Chavez