The Tampa Bay Rowdies advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night, after defeating VSI Tampa Bay FC 2-1 at Plant City Stadium in Plant City, Fla.
The Rowdies will host Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg.
Forward Georgi Hristov had initially opened the scoring off a penalty kick, but VSI quickly tied things up thanks to midfielder JT Noone. It was the Bulgarian forward who put the Rowdies ahead minutes before the half with a great individual run.
With the match at a scoreless draw through the first quarter hour, VSI was awarded a penalty kick after Rowdies defender Andres Arango was called for a foul inside the box in the 16th minute. It was midfielder Tony Donatelli who stepped up and took the penalty shot, only to find goalkeeper Diego Restrepo's glove save to force the ball off the post and out of play.
Entering the 20th minute, Hristov was brought down in the box, as he went down the right flank toward VSI's goal. Hristov opened the scoring in the 21st minute on the ensuing penalty kick. Minutes later midfielder JT Noone received a low cross from midfielder Shawn Chin and leveled things up at Plant City Stadium.
It was Hristov once again who put the Rowdies up once again with his second U.S. Open Cup goal and his fourth this year with the Rowdies. A great run just before the half time whistle gave Hristov space to run and as he entered the 18-yard box he slipped the ball past VSI's goalkeeper for the go-ahead goal.
The second half began with forward Amani Walker on the pitch, coming on for Carl Cort which added speed to the attack. Walker caused a constant aerial threat, sending several headers just inches wide of VSI's net. The Rowdies defense acted well to VSI's attack, clearing the ball from the box in several opportunities.
With VSI focused on getting the equalizer, the Rowdies were able to find spaces and create chances. In several moments, the Rowdies controlled the match, but were threatened by VSI's long balls that would try to catch the Rowdies off guard. The Rowdies held on for the win, led by Restrepo who began the match with a game-changing save on the initial VSI penalty kick.
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