Fort Lauderdale Strikers earn deserved win over Tampa Bay Rowdies

Filed under: Florida News,Sport,Tampa Bay Rowdies |

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida - 25th July 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Fort Lauderdale Strikers earned an impressive 3-1 road win over longtime rival Tampa Bay Rowdies  in North American Soccer League action at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, this evening. Even before it started, the game was in some doubt as some eight inches of rain in the previous 24 hours had produced a soggy pitch. Tampa Bay were desperate to play the game and in order to do this they utilized a helicopter to dry the playing surface during the afternoon.

Strikers’ midfielder PC opened the scoring in the 16th minute when he fired into the left hand corner of the net from the back post after receiving a Marlon Freitas cross. Much of the credit for the move will go to Fort Lauderdale newcomer Gabriel, playing in his first NASL game, who intercepted a Tampa Bay pass near midfield, before knocking it forward to Freitas.  The strike is PC’s second goal of the year and it also gives Freitas his second assist of 2015.

The second goal came in the 79th minute when Strikers substitute Bruno Nunes took possession of a loose ball on the right hand side of the field and slammed it into the left side of the net.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida - 25th July 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Former USA international Freddy Adu (pictured above), who was making his Rowdies debut, came on in the 75th minute and very nearly provided the spark for a late comeback. The man who became the youngest athlete ever to sign a professional contract in the United States after he was selected by D.C. United in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, made some intelligent runs and provided the assist for a Maicon Santos goal.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida - 25th July 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

In second half stoppage time, Santos received a chip from Adu and cut inside along the by line before smashing in a fierce strike to the top right corner to give Strikers goalkeeper Josh Ford, who is on loan from Major League Soccer’s Orlando City, no chance to make a save.

Moments later, an Adu cross earned the Rowdies a corner that nearly leveled the match as Santos got a header on target but he directed it straight to Ford who made a comfortable save.

Deep into injury time and with Tampa Bay pushing forward for an equalizer, Fort Lauderdale made a fast break and they sealed a deserved win when Stefano Pinho notched his sixth goal of the year as he finished low into the left corner.

The victory extends the Strikers unbeaten streak to five games, dating back to the NASL Spring Season finale and a win at Minnesota. Since that match, the Strikers have earned three draws to start the Fall season before tonight’s win.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida - 25th July 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

 “It was a really well-deserved victory,” said Strikers head coach Günter Kronsteiner (pictured above left) after watching the Brazilians in his team score all three goals.  “Of course it feels very good — I have to admit, especially because we beat a solid team tonight.”

The result ties the race for the 2015 Coastal Cup, with each team now having six points after splitting two matches in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, league and Coastal Cup newcomer Jacksonville Armada is still in search for its first points in Florida Derbies. The Strikers and Rowdies meet again in Fort Lauderdale on August 15.

“We lost the game and we’re disappointed about it,” Adu said. “I’m personally disappointed about it, but it’s sort of bittersweet because the reception was so awesome. Everytime I got close to the ball, the crowd was into it. … It was nice to get the assist, but at the end of the day, the team lost. We’ve got to get better as a team and I’ve got to get better and work in with the rest of the guys.”

“We have to find a way to grind something out,” Rowdies head coach Thomas Rongen (pictured above right) said. “It doesn’t always have to be pretty. That’s what we need to be teaching because we try to play good football. But good football doesn’t always get you the result. We probably have to be more Chelsea-like than Barcelona-like.”

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida - 25th July 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

“We have to score goals,” Rowdies midfielder Georgi Hristov (pictured above left) said. “We lost our third game in a row, but we have 16 more games. The season is really long. We’ve got to stick together. It’s easy when you’re winning, but when you lose, it comes down to character, friendship and respect. … I can’t even say we played bad, but we lost the game.”

Up next, the Rowdies hit the road next weekend to pay a visit to the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday August 1 before returning home to host another Coastal Cup match against Jacksonville Armada FC on August 8. The Strikers, meanwhile, will travel to New York to face the Cosmos next Sunday in the second game of a three-match road trip. The trip concludes in Atlanta against the Silverbacks before the Strikers return home to face the Cosmos on Saturday, August 8 at Lockhart Stadium.

First Half

1’ Match begins, with the Strikers wearing all white, at Al Lang Stadium. Play commences under clear skies and with a soggy pitch due to eight inches of rain pounding the field in the previous 24 hours.

2’ Ben Sweat sends a long shot at the Fort Lauderdale goal that’s handled easily by Strikers GK Josh Ford who snatches the dying quail with his hands outstretched over his head

10’ Strikers’ first legitimate chance comes on the counter, as PC and Stefano combine on a cross for Gabriel that’s blocked by a Rowdies defender before the pass reaches Fort Lauderdale’s newest acquisition.

16’ GOAL FTL. Gabriel intercepts a Tampa Bay pass near midfield and sends it to Marlon Freitas, who then feeds a cross to PC that he taps into the back of the net near the back post for the first goal of the match.

18’ James Marcelin takes a hard shot from 18-yards out that’s blocked by Tampa Bay’s Contofalský after the goalkeeper comes out to challenge.

25’ Strikers’ Karsten Smith receives a yellow card

27’ PC narrowly misses his second goal of the night when his free kick to the near post sails just wide of the net.

29’ Darwin Espinal’s shot inside the box forces Josh Ford to dive left to make the save.

29’ James Marcelin receives a yellow card.

38’ PC’s chip on the breakaway is saved by Čontofalský after the goalkeeper comes way out.

44’ Tampa Bay’s Darnell King gets behind the Strikers’ back line for a great scoring opportunity that’s thwarted by Karsten Smith, who brings down the former Striker with a clean tackle to force the turnover.

45’+3 The referee indicates the end of the first half with the Strikers leading 1-0. While possession was evenly split, the Fort Lauderdale counterattack proved dangerous on several instances, including the match’s lone score in the opening stanza. The Strikers managed four shots in the first half, while the Rowdies managed four.

Second Half

46’ Fort Lauderdale kicks off as the rain continues to hold off despite significant cloud cover.

47′ Early chance from the Rowdies as a ball is whipped in from the left flank. Reaches the back post where Strikers’ defender Iván Guerrero clears.

50’ Martin Nuñes receives a yellow card following a foul on Gabriel.

63’ Stefano’s shot saved by Čontofalský as he goes low and knocks it away with his leg.

66’ PC goes down after he’s challenged from behind and, apparently, hit in the lower back. He stays down for nearly four minutes before game action resumes.

71’ PC limps off after being replaced by Evans Frimpong.

76’ Former U.S. soccer prodigy Freddy Adu makes his NASL debut as he comes on for Tampa Bay defender Darnell King.

77’ Adu sends a long pass to Maicon Santos, whose chip is scooped up deftly by Fort Lauderdale keeper Josh Ford.

79’ GOAL FTL. Fewer than 16 minutes after coming on, substitute Bruno Nunes takes the loose ball all alone on the right and slams it into the left side of the net. Evans Frimpong credited with the assist.

86’ Nunes has another clear shot on goal — this one is saved by Čontofalský at close range.

90+2 GOAL TBR. Maicon Santos gets the home team on the board as he scores following a chip from Freddy Adu.

90’+3 Gale Agbossoumonde receives a yellow card.

90’+3 Josh Ford comes up big to deny Maicon Santos an equalizer following a header from a Rowdies’ corner kick

90’+4 Stefano Pinho seals the victory with his team-leading sixth goal of year.

90’+5 The referee blows the final whistle; Fort Lauderdale wins 3-1


Fort Lauderdale Strikers (4-2-3-1) – Ford; Sanfilippo, Kling, Smith, Guerrero (C); Freitas, Marcelin; Gabriel (Nunes 63’), PC (Frimpong 71’), Ramirez (Sánchez 85’); Stefano

Substitutes not used: Brown, Graye, Angulo, Gonzalez,

Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-3-3) – Čontofalský; King (Adu 76’), Antonijevic (Agbossoumonde 40’), Mkandawire (C), Sweat; Guerra, Nuñez, Hristov; Hernandez (Hertzog 60’), Santos, Espinal

Substitutes not used: Pickens, Saragosa, Chavez, Shriver

More photos at

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