MATTHEWS, N.C. (June 27, 2018) — New Tampa Bay Rowdies midfielder Dominic Oduro marked his club debut in dramatic fashion with a stunning game-tying goal in the 90th minute to help the Rowdies to a 2-2 draw against the Charlotte Independence at the SportsPlex at Matthews on Wednesday night.
The Rowdies (5-6-4, 19 points) conceded two goals in seven minutes in the second half to fall behind, but defender Tamika Mkandawire game the Rowdies a new life with his first goal of the season in the 67th minute, setting the stage for a dramatic finale.
The match turned in the 86th minute when Independence defender Joel Johnson was shown a yellow card for wasting time. Only three minutes later, Johnson committed a tactical foul to slow down Leo Fernandes on a counter attack and was dismissed from the match in the 89th minute.
Early in stoppage time, Rowdies midfielder Martin Vingaard sent in a cross from the left that curled out of the box, but directly into the path of Oduro, who stepped into it with a stunning finish from 25 yards to even the match.
“With circumstances that we’re in right now we wanted to be hard to beat and we were,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “In the second half, I thought we came out and we were the better team and we were taking the game to Charlotte and bang, bang we were 2-0 down. You don’t always get what you deserve in football, but we stuck at it tonight. We scored two really good goals and at the end were pushing to win it.”
The point earned Wednesday night is the first point this year earned on the road against a team in the playoff positions.
The Rowdies showed a defensive resolve worth applauding in the first half, when Charlotte (6-4-6, 24 points) racked up 65.5 percent of possession, but could only muster one shot on target as the Rowdies stifled the home team at every corner.
Tied at 0-0 to start the second half, Tampa Bay got straight on the front foot and started creating chances after a first half that didn’t feature a single shot.
Tampa Bay was unlucky to fall behind when Jorge Herrera scored the opener in the 57th minute and looked to be in real trouble in the 64th when Cordell Cato doubled the Independence’s lead.
It took only two minutes for Tamika Mkandawire to halve the deficit with a scrappy finish on a loose ball in the box and from there, it was all Rowdies.
Johnson’s dismissal in the 88th minute gave the Rowdies a free kick from which Vingaard and Alex Morrell ran a set piece that ended with Vingaard’s cross finding Oduro in space 25 yards out from goal.
“I feel so good,” Oduro said. “My teammates really helped me because there was a lot of encouragement there. I feel good because they kept me going. … When the ball was coming to me, I was just thinking that this should go right in. I was confident in my technique and I knew I was going to shoot. I did it and I’m very happy for that.”
Had they been given a few more minutes, the Rowdies just might have found a late winner, particularly after Charlotte was reduced to nine men after Donnie Smith’s high elbow to the face of Max Lachowecki, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Now, the Rowdies head home with a full week to prepare to host Toronto FC II on the Fourth of July on a spectacular night at Al Lang Stadium. For tickets, call 727-222-2000 or click here.
Independence: Jorge Herrera - 57th minute (Assisted by Cordell Cato)
Independence: Cordell Cato - 64th minute (Assisted by Jorge Herrera)
Rowdies: Tamika Mkandawire - 66th minute
Rowdies: Dominic Oduro - 90th minute
Rowdies: Hunter Gorskie - 44th minute
Rowdies: Max Lachowecki - 78th minute
Independence: Joel Johnson - 86th minute
Independence: Joel Johnson - 89th minute (Red Card)
Independence: Donnie Smith - 92nd minute (Red Card)
Rowdies XI (3-5-2): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Hunter Gorskie, Tamika Mkandawire, Ivan Magalhães; M Sebastian Guenzatti, Joe Cole (c) (Alex Morrell 76'), Dominic Oduro, Michael Nanchoff (Martin Vingaard 83'), Max Lachowecki; F Jochen Graf (Georgi Hristov 58'), Leo Fernandes
Charlotte XI (4-4-2): GK Andrew Dykstra; D Jung-Soo Lee, Joel Johnson, Je-vaughn Watson (Bilal Duckett 86'), Donnie Smith; M Kay Voser (Greg Jordan 76'), Kevan George, Cordell Cato, Alex Martinez; F Yann Ekra (Eamon Zayed 88'), Jorge Herrera