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The Tampa Bay Rowdies opened their 2016 North American Soccer League season with a dull 0-0 draw against a resolute Indy Eleven at Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg this evening.
Neither side really did enough to win the game and testament to that fact was that the Rowdies didn’t have their first real shot on goal until Eric Avila blasted a shot on target in the 90th minute.
Both sides huffed and puffed and created half chances with Tampa having marginally the better of the exchanges. The first half saw new signing Tommy Heinemann (pictured below) advance on goal in the 19th minute but Jon Busch in the Indy goal was quicker to the ball and cleared the danger.
Heinemann then had another opening in the 39th minute but his powerful volley from a Kalif Alhassan looping pass was blocked well by the defender Greg Janicki.
The second half was marginally better as the Rowdies stepped up the pace as Heinemann was denied again by good defending in the 52nd minute after Alhassan cut a ball back from the endline but Busch was again in the right spot to make a reaction save and keep the Rowdies off the scoreboard.
“I’m frustrated that we didn’t get three points, but overall there’s a lot more positives than negatives,” Tampa Bay Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell (pictured above) said. “I think we moved the ball really well at times and at the end of it, a point is a point … The only thing—and it’s a big thing—is that we didn’t score. We didn’t turn the domination that we had in possession into goals.”
“We started slow in the first 15 minutes, but once we got a foothold in the game, I thought we dominated the first half,” Campbell added. “We created a couple of chances but didn’t take them and at halftime, I just asked them to start the second half how we finished the first and I think we did.”
“For us as a team, we just lacked that last pass to put it in,” Tampa Bay midfielder Eric Avila (pictured above) said. “I think we did well trying to sort it out and push, but it was just the last pass that killed us.”
Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens made his lone save of the match in the 79th minute from a well-hit volley by Indy forward Eamon Zayed.
“We know that we’re capable of beating every team in this league at home,” Pickens said. “It’s important that we start off on the right foot. We didn’t get (a win,) but we didn’t lose. … We can pick apart a lot of the game and find a lot of positives. We didn’t give up a lot of chances.”
Up next, the Rowdies hit the road to take on Miami FC on April 9 before returning home to square off against FC Edmonton on April 16.
Rowdies XI (4-5-1): GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Neill Collins, Zac Portillos; M Justin Chavez, Michael Nanchoff; M Eric Avila, Junior Burgos (Georgi Hristov 73′), Kalif Alhassan (Darwin Espinal 67′); F Tommy Heinemann
Indy XI (4-5-1): GK Jon Busch; D Lovel Palmer (Marco Franco 82′), Colin Falvey, Greg Janicki, Nemanja Vukovic; M Brad Ring , M Nicki Paterson (Gorka Larrea 62′); M Justin Braun, Siniša Ubiparipović, Duke Lacroix (Jair Reinoso 73′); F Eamon Zayed
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com