TAMPA, Fla. (March 9, 2018) -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies defeated the University of South Florida Bulls 5-2 at Corbett Soccer Stadium on Saturday night. This was the Rowdies final preseason match, as they prepare for next Saturday's USL opener on the road against North Carolina FC.
"I was very pleased with the performance tonight," said Stuart Campbell. "We've had a strong preseason and it has prepared us well for the upcoming 2018 season. I am looking forward to next Saturday and kicking off the season against North Carolina."
Despite creating multiple chances early, the Rowdies were unable to take the lead until the 39th minute. Midfielder Joe Cole found space 25 yards out and blasted a shot into the upper left corner of the net.
The Rowdies lead didn't last much, as forward Trey Jackson equalized in the 42nd minute. Jackson made a great run into the box beating several Rowdies defender, before slotting it past goalkeeper Cody Mizell.
"We were a bit disappointed giving up the quick equalizer," said Campbell. "We spoke about it at the half and I told the guys we needed to react and that's exactly what they did."
Moments after nearly conceding the go-ahead goal, the Rowdies would regain the lead off a curling shot by midfielder Michael Nanchoff.
A minute later, the lead would double. Midfielder Leo Fernandes received a low cross from Zac Portillos and easily buried it to make it 3-1.
Just after the 60th minute, forward Georgi Hristov would make it 4-1. Fernandes would pick up the assist after placing a low cross to the far post, finding a wide-open Hristov.
The Rowdies continued to push forward, but USF would get one back to make it 4-2. Forward Tomasz Skublak, who was one of the most dangerous players for the Bulls, would get his reward off a strong strike at the far post.
Second-half substitute Jochen Graf scored the final goal of the match just moment after coming on. Graf was taken down inside the box and would go on to score from the spot to make it 5-2.
"After giving up the first goal, I wanted to make sure we reacted and it was important to see it happen," said Campbell. "We were a very strong team the full 90 minutes, with their keepers making several great saves to keep them in the match. Despite that, we were able to come out with the win."
Rowdies: Joe Cole - 39th minute (Assisted by David Najem)
USF: Trey Jackson - 42nd minute
Rowdies: Michael Nanchoff - 50th minute (Assisted by David Najem)
Rowdies: Leo Fernandes - 51st minute (Assisted by Zac Portillos)
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 61st minute (Assisted by Leo Fernandes)
USF: Tomasz Skublak - 66th minute
Rowdies: Jochen Graf - 75th minute (Penalty Kick)
Rowdies: Leo Fernandes - 11th minute
Rowdies (4-2-3-1): GK Cody Mizell (Akira Fitzgerald 62'); D David Najem (Kyle Curinga 77'), D Neill Collins (Ivan Magalhães 77'), D Hunter Gorskie (Tamika Mkandawire 77'), D Zac Portillos (Alex Morrell 77'); M Jack Blake (Martin Vingaard 77'), Marcel Schäfer; M Michael Nanchoff (Jochen Graf 72'), M Joe Cole (Lance Rozeboom 66'), M Leo Fernandes (Junior Flemmings 66'); F Georgi Hristov (Sebastian Guenzatti 66')
USF (3-5-2): GK Harrison Devenish-Meares; D Kori Cupid, D Marcus Murphy, Aiden Bauer Marr; M Adrian Billhardt, M Avionne Flanagan, M Emilio Ycaza, M Josue Monge, M Jonathan Rosales; F Tomasz Skublak, F Trey Jackson