Tampa Bay Rowdies fall to New York Red Bulls II in play offs

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

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Tampa Bay Rowdies’ season came to an end on Saturday evening after a 2-1 extra time loss to the New York Red Bulls II in the Eastern Conference Semifinal at Al Lang Stadium.

Georgi Hristov opened the scoring for the Rowdies in the 26th minute but a Stefano Bonomo penalty kick in the 58th was enough to force 30 minutes of extra time. Bonomo then scored again just three minutes into the extra time and the Rowdies were unable to score the goal that would have taken the game to penalties and extend their season.

The Red Bulls II now advance to face top-seeded Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference Final next weekend.

“I’m obviously really disappointed with the end result,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “I thought we played great with the amount of chances we created. Their goalkeeper made some unbelievable saves, we hit the woodwork a couple of times and had one cleared off the line. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the win that I think we deserved.”

The statistics show that the Rowdies racked up 23 shots, but could only find a way past Red Bulls goalkeeper Evan Louro once. The reality was that the Rowdies never really got going in the game as the Red Bulls pressed well to upset the home sides rhythm and then broke with power and pace to threaten goals of their own.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The match was physical from the beginning, and New York actually had two early scoring chances that were well saved by Matt Pickens. The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute and had a touch of fortune about it as Rowdies defender Zac Portillos fired a shot from 30 yards out that cannoned off Red Bulls defender Jordan Scarlett and into the path of Georgi Hristov. The forward collected the loose ball and slotted home a left-footed shot from ten yards that beat Louro.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Two minutes later the lead should have been extended as Marcel Schafer found Joe Cole who was wide open. The midfielder took a little too much time and his tame shot was saved by Louro to keep the score at 1-0 going into half time.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The second half started in the same vein as the first half and the Rowdies had another chance to extend their lead in the 55th minute. Neil Collins flicked on a corner from the right hand side and Hunter Gorskie’s follow up header bounced kindly off the crossbar for the Red Bulls to clear away. It was a vital miss as two minutes later Red Bulls midfielder Junior Flemmings strolled into the 18-yard box completely unmarked to be met by Pickens who came out feet first and clipped Flemmings to give the visitors a penalty. Bonomo converted the penalty kick sending Pickens the wrong way to level the score.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The game was in the balance and Pickens almost gifted the Red Bulls the game in the 82nd minute as he carelessly allowed the ball to bounce off his shin and into the path of Arun Basuljevic. The keeper made amends though with a fine save at full stretch to his left to keep the Rowdies alive.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The Rowdies then created chances in the 87th minute, when Michael Nanchoff had a shot saved at point-blank range by Louro and the 88th, when Guenzatti fired a volley that required a superb diving save from Louro to deny the forward.

The game went into extra tie and Bonomo scored his second goal of the night and seventh in his last six matches in the 93rd minute, tapping in a Florian Valot assist. The game completely opened up as the Rowdies went for all-out attack. Guenzatti and Georgi Hristov were joined by Martin Paterson and Alex Morrell in a four-pronged attack with Neill Collins also advancing forward as time ticked away.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

In the 106th minute, Paterson put a header past Louro and on frame only for Red Bulls forward Junior Flemmings to clear it off the line and the former Burnley forward then had two more efforts in the 109th and 113th minutes, but both went wide.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The equalizer looked as if it was going to come and Guenzatti nearly tied it for the Rowdies with a shot from 23 yards that sailed agonizingly inches over the crossbar. Paterson then thought he had scored in the 120th minute as his snap shot was denied by Louro’s sixth save of the night and just to add to the drama Rowdies defender Gorskie hit the crossbar in the final seconds. It was not to be and the Rowdies season ended as referee Dickerson blew for full time.

“We look back on the amount of chances that we created and we missed chances not through poor finishing,” Campbell said. “You’ve got to give their goalkeeper credit. I think he had an unbelievable night. He had three or four world class saves tonight.”

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 New York Red Bulls II 2 - Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg - 28th October 2017 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

“I felt we deserved at least to take it to penalties,” Rowdies Captain Joe Cole said. “Performance-wise, we deserved (to win,) but we could have played better. At the moment, it’s disappointing. We might look back and see progress from the season before, but at the moment, it’s just disappointment because we lost a game of football and the season is over.”

Starting Lineups
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Hunter Gorskie, Neill Collins, Zac Portillos; M Martin Vingaard (Alex Morrell 97′), Marcel Schäfer; M Walter Restrepo (Michael Nanchoff 68′), Joe Cole (c)(Martin Paterson 96′), Georgi Hristov; F Sebastian Guenzatti

New York XI (4-2-3-1): GK Evan Louro; D David Najem, Hassan Ndam, Jordan Scarlett (Tim Schmoll 71′), Ethan Kutler; M Dan Metzger, Andrew Tinari (David Abidor 119′); M Junior Flemmings, Arun Basuljevic (Ben Mines 89′), Florian Valot; F Stefano Bonomo

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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