ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 22, 2018) — Marcel Schäfer’s Tampa Bay Rowdies farewell started well but didn’t end that way as the Rowdies fell to a 2-1 defeat to Penn FC at Al Lang Stadium in the German star’s final match before retirement as a player.
Schäfer had an assist on the Rowdies’ goal in the 34th minute, crossing a ball for Leon Taylor to tuck into the net to give the Rowdies a lead. It was Schäfer’s 15th assist since joining the club last year.
Just a few minutes into the second half though, the shimmer started to wear off Lucky Mkosana scored a quick equalizer just four minutes into the second half.
Then it got worse as Taylor was dismissed from the match with a straight red card, reducing the Rowdies to 10 men for the final forty-plus minutes of the game.
Mkosana scored again in the 67th minute to put his side ahead and the Rowdies never found a way to reply, despite creating more than a few opportunities to do so.
“Once we got a goal we were well in control playing some good stuff,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “At halftime, we could probably have been 2-0 up. The second half we didn’t start particularly great and they got their goal. The sending off obviously makes a huge difference.”
The Rowdies’ goal was one we’ve seen so many times during Schäfer’s career at Al Lang, a perfectly weighted ball from the left flank that’s nearly impossible to defend and needs just a simple touch to redirect on frame. Taylor’s finish was his second in as many appearances for the Rowdies.
Things changed when Leon Taylor leaped to contest an aerial ball from Rowdies goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald against Penn FC left back Harri Hawkins. Taylor jumped up, while Hawkins remained on the floor and stepped into Taylor’s elbow, but Taylor was shown a straight red card and ejected from the match.
Reduced to 10 men with the score even at 1-1, the Rowdies were dealt another blow via Mkosana’s classy back heel finish in the 67th minute to put Penn FC up 2-1.
The Rowdies kept pushing though and nearly equalized just two minutes later when Georgi Hristov beat Penn’s high line and raced in alone against the goalkeeper, but Romuald Peiser made a big save to deny the Rowdies.
Alex Morrell provided a spark off the bench with dangerous runs into the box, but on every occasion, he was bumped off the ball or had his cross cleared.
Tampa Bay’s last big chance came in stoppage time when Ivan Magalhães got on the end of a Michael Nanchoff corner kick and put a header on frame, but Miguel Jaime cleared it off the line to doom the Rowdies to defeat.
“I actually thought after the sending off we played pretty well for five or 10 minutes before their goal,” Collins said. “And then after their goal, we created chances that we should score. The man difference obviously makes it tough and gives them a huge advantage, but we could have still come away with something.”
It was the Rowdies’ first home loss in regulation since April 22 of 2017, but the Rowdies will now regroup before heading to North Carolina next week for a midweek tilt against the Charlotte Independence.
Tampa Bay will return home on the Fourth of July to host Toronto FC II. For tickets, call (727) 222-2000 or click here.
Tampa Bay: Leon Taylor (Assisted by Marcel Schäfer) - 34th Minute
Penn: Lucky Mkosana - 49th Minute
Penn: Lucky Mkosana (Assisted by Freddie Opoku) - 67th Minute
Penn: Ken Tribbett - 27th Minute
Tampa Bay: Marcel Schäfer - 39th Minute
Tampa Bay: Ivan Magalhães - 48th Minute
Tampa Bay: Leon Taylor - 51st Minute (Red Card)
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 55th Minute
Tampa Bay: Joe Cole - 85th Minute
Penn: Marco Franco - 88th Minute
Rowdies XI (3-4-3): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Tamika Mkandawire, Ivan Magalhães, Hunter Gorskie; M Marcel Schäfer (c), Leo Fernandes, Michael Nanchoff, Joe Cole; F Georgi Hristov (Jochen Graf 83'), Sebastian Guenzatti (Alex Morrell 77'), Leon Taylor
TBR Subs: GK Cody Mizell; D Max Lachowecki; M
Alex Morrell, Martin Vingaard, Afrim Taku; F Jochen Graf
Penn XI (4-4-2): GK Romu Peiser; D Marco Franco, Kyle Venter, Ken Tribbett (c), Harri Hawkins; M Freddie Opoku, Richard Menjivar, Dan Metzger, Saalih Muhammad (Calvin Rezende 46'); F Lucky Mkosana, Isaac Osae (Aaron Dennis 45')
PEN Subs: GK Sean Lewis; D Haruna Shaibu, Pedro Galvão; M Miguel Jaime, Prince Baffoe,
Calvin Rezende; F Aaron Dennis