ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (February 16, 2019) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies made their official 2019 debut Saturday night and put on a strong showing in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United on the first day of the Rowdies Suncoast Invitational.
D.C.’s decisive goal came from United States Men’s National Team winger Paul Arriola in the 34th minute. Star striker Wayne Rooney was kept mostly quiet by a Rowdies defensive unit that looked impressive in early preseason action.
“There was lots to be positive about,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “We’ve got to consider where we are in preseason and that some of those guys haven’t played much together yet. I don’t like losing and it’s something that we don’t want to do much of, but you have to put it in perspective and you can be pleased about a lot of that performance.”
Five new Rowdies featured in the starting lineup as Head Coach Neill Collins blended fresh faces with experience at the opening whistle. Ahead of John McCarthy in goal, center backs Shawn Barry and Mohamed Kone played really well either side of Papé Diakité in a back three.
Neither side had too many scoring chances in the first half, though Sebastian Guenzatti did hit the crossbar with a rocket from the top of the box in the 33rd minute.
Just a minute later, Arriola took advantage of his chance, receiving a pass from Luciano Acosta and putting his shot on target and past McCarthy from the near post.
Rooney appeared to score a goal in the 39th minute, but a review from the Video Assistant Referee waived it off due to offside, sending the teams into the halftime break with a 1-0 scoreline in favor of D.C. United.
“When you look at the size and athleticism of our defensive group, you expect them to perform the way they did,” Collins said.
The second half was much choppier as waves of substitutions entered the match.
The Rowdies starters played right about an hour before eight new players were inserted into the match. Only McCarthy, Diakité and Dom Oduro played the full 90.
McCarthy was texted twice in quick succession in the 69th and 70th minutes by Rooney, but stood tall and made the save on both occasions.
Tampa Bay’s only real chance came in the 84th minute when the Rowdies swept up the field in a beautiful flowing movement that ended with trialist Juan Tejada pushing a header just wide of target.
“That D.C. United team was probably the best MLS team I’ve seen at Al Lang in the last few years and I thought we gave them a really tough test.”
It was the Rowdies first loss of preseason. Tampa Bay will be back in action on Wednesday night when it hosts the Montreal Impact at 7 at Al Lang Stadium.
D.C. United: Paul Arriola - 34th minute (assisted by Luciano Acosta)
Tampa Bay: GK John McCarthy; D Shawn Barry (Jordan Doherty 63'), Papé Diakité, Mohamed Kone (Tarek Morad 63'); M David Najem (Eti Tavares* 63'), Kwadwo Poku (Zach Steinberger 63'), Dom Oduro, Andrew Tinari (Yann Ekra 63'), Leo Fernandes (Caleb Richards 63'); F Antoine Hoppenot (Juan Tejada* 63'), Sebastian Guenzatti (Brandon Allen 63')
D.C. United: GK Bill Hamid; D Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; M Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Luciano Acosta; F Paul Arriola, Wayne Rooney, Zoltan Steiber