LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 16, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies hit a bump in the road Saturday night, losing their first match of the season 2-1 to Louisville City FC in front of an impressive crowd at Louisville Slugger Field.
Here’s Three Things from Saturday night’s loss…
1. Perfect no more
Tampa Bay dropped its first points of the season in Louisville after opening the year with three consecutive wins and three consecutive clean sheets, tying a Modern Era club record. The Rowdies conceded the opening goal of the night in the 22nd minute, forcing the Rowdies to play from behind for the first time all season.
The Rowdies didn’t look as comfortable as in previous weeks, but applied heavy pressure late in the match. A furious rally in the final 10 minutes saw Tampa Bay nearly equalize the match. Darwin Jones had a deflected shot roll just wide in the 82nd minute. On the ensuing corner kick, Deshorn Brown had a shot hit the goalpost and rebound across the face of goal before being cleared.
With so much emphasis on equalizing, the Rowdies were caught out on a clinical counterattack by Louisville City, which took a 2-0 lead in the 87th minute.
Tampa Bay’s Martin Paterson scored a goal two minutes later, but the Rowdies simply ran out of time.
2. Tactical flexibility
Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell had one hand tied behind his back Saturday night, forced to use one of his substitutions just 16 minutes into the match when goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald sustained an injury and needed to be replaced by Matt Pickens.
Campbell was aggressive with his two remaining substitutions, though.
Just before the hour mark, defensive midfielder Martin Vingaard exited the match in favor of more attacking flair in the form of Darwin Jones. Michael Nanchoff, who started the match on the right wing, slid back to Vingaard’s spot. Nanchoff played a handful of games in 2016 as a defensive midfielder.
In the 79th minute, Nanchoff himself departed the match and was replaced by forward Martin Paterson as the Rowdies turned up the heat with the clock running out.
The two offensive switches seemed to work for the Rowdies, with the Rowdies piling on pressure late. Paterson became the Rowdies forward this season to score within 10 minutes of making his Rowdies debut, but it wasn’t enough for Tampa Bay to rescue a point.
3. Tough matches ahead
If Saturday’s match was a bit sobering for Rowdies fans after three straight wins, the road doesn’t get much easier for Tampa Bay in the coming weeks.
The Rowdies’ next two opponents, FC Cincinnati and the Charleston Battery, won by a combined score of 9-0 on Saturday night, easily dispatching Saint Louis FC 4-0 and the Rochester Rhinos 5-0, respectively. Romario Williams scored a hat trick for the Battery, but Cincinnati’s Djiby Fall did him one better, scoring all four goals for his team.
Saturday’s crowd of 9,074 in Louisville was the eighth-largest crowd the Rowdies have played in front of in the Modern Era. Wednesday’s crowd in Cincinnati has a chance to set a new record to be the largest crowd the Rowdies have played in front of. The current record of 13,034 was set in 2010 in Montreal.