ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 6, 2018) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies ran out of time Saturday night.
Both in their match against the Charlotte Independence, a 2-1 loss with a mad dash to the final whistled, and in their season. The Rowdies were eliminated from postseason contention with the loss.
The second half felt like a microcosm of the Rowdies’ entire 2018 season.
The Rowdies were playing from behind and looked so impossibly close to getting things on track before falling short at the end.
Leon Taylor scored the Rowdies’ goal in the 80th minute, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a sloppy first half that saw Tampa Bay concede goals in the 26th and 32nd minutes to Kay Voser and Derek Gebhard, respectively.
From the start of the second half, the Rowdies pushed like crazy, needing a win to stay alive heading into the final weekend of the season.
Once Taylor cracked the door open with 10 minutes plus stoppage to go, the match went fully off the rails in a wild finale.
Tampa Bay (11-14-8, 41 points) created more than enough chances in the final 10 minutes to get the result it needed, but for one reason after another, they just couldn’t get across the line.
Just seconds after restarting play, Alex Morrell sent a shot wide of target as the Rowdies kicked into high gear.
In the 82nd minute, a Morrell cross slid just inches away from Taylor’s sliding boot.
With four minutes to go before stoppage time, Sebastian Guenzatti had a header from four yards out that was denied by an unbelievable save from Brandon Miller to keep the Rowdies behind.
With 30 seconds to go before the start of six minutes of stoppage time, Taylor hit the post with a header.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Guenzatti was fouled by Charlotte captain Bilal Duckett one yard inside the Independence’s box, and, while the foul was whistled, the Rowdies were instead given a free kick outside the box. Jaime Chavez sent the ensuing free kick into the wall.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Hunter Gorskie appeared to score the game-tying goal, only for the offside flag to call it off.
With the result, Tampa Bay’s competitive season came to an end.
"It’s our own deficiencies that cost us tonight," Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. "I know what they are and I will rectify them. I’ve rectified some of them in a short period of time and I promise our loyal fans, that we will have a team that will fight the way we did the last 30 minutes. We’ll have that fight. I can promise them that things will be a lot better next year."
The Rowdies will finish the season next Sunday on the road against the Bethlehem Steel FC before heading into the offseason and the start of the Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership of the Rowdies.
Independence: Kay Voser - 26th minute (Assisted by Eamon Zayed)
Independence: Derek Gebhard - 32nd minute (Assisted by Cordell Cato)
Rowdies: Leon Taylor - 80th minute (Assitted by Sebastian Guenzatti)
Rowdies: Pape Diakite - 78th minute
Independence: Brandon Miller - 82nd minute
Independence: Kay Voser - 84th minute
Rowdies XI (3-5-2): GK Daniel Vega; D Hunter Gorskie, Papé Diakité, Tarek Morad; M Afrim Taku, Joe Cole (c) (Jaime Chavez 70'), Dom Oduro (Lance Rozeboom 35'), Kwadwo Poku (Alex Morrell 46'), Leo Fernandes; F Leon Taylor, Sebastian Guenzatti
Charlotte XI (3-4-3): GK Brandon Miller; D Bilal Duckett (c), Greg Jordan, Je-vaughn Watson; M Conor O’Brien, Kay Voser, Cordell Cato (Joel Johnson 66'), Sam Vines; F Derek Gebhard (Caleb Calvert 80'), Eamon Zayed, Jorge Herrera (Yann Ekra 65')