Tampa Bay Rowdies outclassed by NASL League leaders Minnesota United

Filed under: Florida News,Tampa Bay Rowdies |

Georgi Histrov - Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Minnesota - 15 October 2014 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Tampa Bay Rowdies lost 3-2 to NASL league leaders Minnesota at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg tonight. In truth, the scoreline flattered the Rowdies as Minnesota controlled the flow of the game from start to finish.

The first goal of the game came against the run of play as Georgi Hristov (pictured above) found himself free, from a Blake Wagner through ball, with just the keeper to beat in the 28th minute. He made no mistake with a neat finish to the low left hand side of the goal.

Matt Pickens grabs teammate Blake Wagner, Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Minnesota - 15 October 2014 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

In the 40th minute, still with the lead, quite an extraordinary incident happened as Tampa keeper Matt Pickens (pictured above) punched the ball away from a Minnesota attack only to hear his teammate Blake Wagner call out “Catch It.” Pickens didn’t seem to enjoy that comment too much as he grabbed his teammate by the throat and risked a red card.

Christian Ramirez scores for Minnesota - 15 October 2014 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)Christian Ramirez scores for Minnesota - 15 October 2014 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Minnesota then equalised through some sloppy Tampa defending in the 44th minute as Christian Ramirez (pictured above) seized on a loose ball in the box from a Brian Kallman throw in. With a neat turn he volleyed home on the stroke of half time to give Minnesota a share of the half time spoils.

The second half started in much the same vein as Minnesota took control of the game but it was the Rowdies who should have regained the lead in the 56th minute as Luciano Olguin should have scored with just the keeper to beat. Hristov intercepted a pass near midfield and started a quick attack with Luciano Olguin available for support. Hristov slid the ball over to Olguin, who shot with his left foot, but it was brilliantly saved by Matt Van Oekel in the Minnesota goal.

Christian Ramirez scores for Minnesota - 15 October 2014 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Minnesota’s second goal, in the 58th minute, came in controversial fashion as Rowdies defender Anthony Wallace jostled with Brian Kallman near the endline. It appeared that the ball may have gone out of play before Kallman crossed to Ramirez (pictured above), who neatly finished past Pickens. The goal was Ramirez’s league-high 19th of the season.

Juliano Vicentini scores for Minnesota - 15 October 2014 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Eight minutes later, Juliano Vicentini (pictured above) gave Minnesota’s a 3-1 lead with his first goal of the season. Ramirez and newly-minted United States Men’s National Team member Miguel Ibarra combined well just outside the Rowdies’ 18-yard box. Tampa Bay defender Kyle Clinton stepped in and poked the ball away from Ibarra but the ball bounced nicely to Aaron Pitchkolan, who slid it to Vicentini who hit it first time past Matt Pickens in the Tampa goal.

Miguel Ibarra of Minnesota - 15 October 2014 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

A few minutes later Minnesota should have been awarded a penalty as Ibarra was clearly brought down in the Tampa penalty box but Referee Vasquez waived the appeal away.

Tampa Bay then made a pair of attacking-minded substitutions as they sent Lucky Mkosana and Casey Townsend onto the field and the two would pair together to earn a second goal of the evening. Mkosana’s low cross from the left wing beat Minnesota’s defenders and Townsend was left with a simple tap in past Van Oekel from close range for his third goal of the season.

After the game Rowdies Head Coach Ricky Hill said:

“Overall, it was a fairly good game, I was happy with the discipline our guys showed within the tactical structure that we set out during the last couple of days. They implemented that really well in the first half and I felt Minnesota weren’t really a threat at all during that period. Instead of being 1-nil at half time, which would have given us extra confidence and lift, we came in at 1-all from a long throw-in into our box. I asked my guys to give me another 45 minutes of discipline the way they did in the first half, but we came out in the second period a little bit cold.”

He continued, “There’s some dispute about whether the ball went over the line or not. At this level, you just continue playing to the whistle and that’s it. We went 2-1 down and then, in quick succession, went 3-1 down without really being focused and intense enough in and around our box.”

“I’m very disappointed because we’ve lost eight games at home,” Hill said. “If you’re going to do anything, be title contenders or championship winners, you’ve got to win your home games. Our fans have been fantastic, they’re the ones that come every week to cheer our guys on whether we’re winning or losing. I have to applaud them for all the support they’ve given the side throughout the season. I’m disappointed we couldn’t reward them with more victories at home and it’s something we have to address. We have one game left at home and we have to make it a special occasion for our fans.”

Up next, the Rowdies hit the road for back-to-back Saturday matches in Atlanta and New York before their home finale against the Indy Eleven on Saturday, Nov. 1 at Al Lang Stadium.

Rowdies XI (4-4-2): 
GK Matt Pickens; D Jordan Gafa, Kyle Clinton, Takuya Yamada, Anthony Wallace; M Corey Hertzog (Evans Frimpong 90′), Darel Russell, Keith Savage, Blake Wagner (Lucky Mkosana 66′); F Luciano Olguin (Casey Townsend 66′), Georgi Hristov

Minnesota XI (4-2-3-1): GK Matt Van Oekel; D Brian Kallman, Tiago Calvano, Cristiano Dias, Justin Davis; M Juliano Vicentini (Micheal Reed 71′), Floyd Franks (Miguel Ibarra 59′); M Kevin Venegas (Daniel Mendes 79′), Aaron Pitchkolan (c), Omar Daley; F Christian Ramirez

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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