MATTHEWS, N.C. (June 28, 2018) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies fought back and erased a two-goal deficit in the second half on Wednesday night, earning a 2-2 draw against the Charlotte Independence at the SportsPlex at Matthews. It was the first time all season Tampa Bay has picked up a road point against a team in the current playoff field.
Here’s three things to think about after the match.
1. Dominic’s debut
One of the newest members of the Tampa Bay Rowdies made his club debut Wednesday night, with Dominic Oduro earning a start in the important defensive midfield position. Oduro signed with the Rowdies on June 20 from the USL PDL’s FC Golden State Force and made his American professional debut a week later.
And what a debut it was.
Oduro looked totally comfortable on his new stage, controlling the tempo of the game and shielding Tampa Bay’s back line while clogging Charlotte’s passing lanes to the point of frustration. Offensively, his 48 completed passes (at a completion percentage of 90 percent) were the second most on the team. He had a team-high nine long passes, the most of any outfield player. Defensively, he logged one tackle, two clearances and two interceptions.
“When you look at his performance, it was absolutely fantastic,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “He came into our team and looked as if he had been part of it all season. He brings a lot of things to the table for us and he’s only going to get better. The boys all gave him a round of applause in the dressing room after the game. It was well-deserved.”
What his debut will always be remembered for was his rocket of a goal in the 90th minute from 25 yards out to rescue a point for the Rowdies.
Martin Vingaard’s cross from the left wing drifted out of the top of the box and directly into the path of Oduro, who stepped into it and blasted a shot straight into the top left corner to mark his Rowdies debut with an important goal.
“When the ball was coming to me, I was just thinking that this should go right in,” Oduro said. “I was confident in my technique and I knew I was going to shoot. I did it and I’m very happy for that.”
2. Hunter’s wild birthday party
Hunter Gorskie celebrated his 27th birthday on the field Wednesday night and became the center of attention after a nasty collision with Charlotte midfielder Kevan George in the seconds immediately before Tamika Mkandawire’s goal in the 66th minute.
Gorskie and George both leapt to head a ball on a Rowdies corner kick and clashed heads instead, with both players staying down to receive medical treatment during a rather subdued goal celebration. Gorskie was much worse for wear as blood gushed for a nasty gash on his forehead.
The stoppage ended up taking just short of five minutes as Gorskie receiving medical treatment to at least temporarily stop the bleeding and wrap his head to allow him to continue playing.
When play restarted, both George and Gorskie took the field once again, Gorskie with a huge wrap on his head and sporting a fresh No. 98 jersey because his original No. 27 had gotten blood on it. He went on to finish the match.
Gorskie’s birthday gift included a dramatic late point and a set of eight fresh stitches to close the wound after the match.
3. A big stretch coming
On the heels of their never-say-die performance Wednesday night, the Rowdies now have a weekend off before opening one of their biggest stretches of the season with a handful of tasty matchups coming up next.
The Rowdies will return to action Wednesday, July 4 against last-place Toronto FC II on a festive holiday night at Al Lang Stadium before welcoming defending champion Louisville City FC to St. Petersburg on the weekend for a Saturday night tilt. A week later, the Rowdies will travel to Ohio to take on first-place FC Cincinnati on July 14. That match is followed by back-to-back home weekends against fourth-place Indy Eleven and then playoff rival New York Red Bulls II in a busy July for the Rowdies.