The Tampa Bay Rowdies dropped their second straight league match, losing 2-1 to the San Antonio Scorpions at Al Lang Stadium in front of an enthusiastic 4,595 fans in St. Petersburg, Fla on Saturday night.
Scorpions forward Blake Wagner scored the go-ahead goal in the 37th minute off an indirect free kick from six yards out. The Rowdies leveled in the 80th minute thanks to a powerful header from Carl Cort, but the Scorpions dramatically stole victory in the dying minutes through substitute Hans Denissen.
The result means the Scorpions remain in contention for the race to host Soccer Bowl, earned by winning the first half of the 2013 NASL season, but the Rowdies are left to sweat the result of tomorrow’s NASL game in Canada. If league leaders Carolina RailHawks beat host FC Edmonton, the defending champions will be eliminated.
"We are disappointed because we need to keep the ball better towards their final third and they are breaking off our poor touches," commented Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. "I’ll ask our players to play with more urgency and confidence. We’ve got to score two goals to win and the only way we can do that is by putting our foot down and going forward."
With the Rowdies controlling possession for most of the first half, it was the Scorpions who had the two most dangerous chances of the half. Rowdies forward Amani Walker had initially threatened the Scorpions with two headers but they were not accurate enough to open up the scoring.
Scorpions midfielder Pat Phelan was close to opening the scoring in the 32nd minute with a 40 yard blast off a free kick. Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo dove to his right and knocked the ball away from the goal.
Minutes later Rowdies defender Jay Needham looked to clear the ball from inside the box but his clearance forced Restrepo to make another save and the referee awarded the Scorpions an indirect free kick from six yards out.
Scorpions defender Kevin Harmse touched the ball to Wagner who powered the shot under the wall of Rowdies defenders to make it 1-0.
The intensity continued in the second half, as the Rowdies dominated play but were unable to score the equalizer. Forward Devin Del Do had the first chance of the half with a great individual run, but his shot was blocked by the Scorpions defense, sending it out for a corner kick. Luke Mulholland took control of the offense, having several dangerous crosses throughout the second half.
After numerous attempts on goal, the break for the Rowdies arrived in the 80th minute when Cort headed home Del Do's cross. Cort scored his first goal of this season, placing his header decisively inside the far post and out of reach of keeper Vuolo.
Tampa Bay pushed forward for the winning goal but it was San Antonio who came away with the three points after a goal in the 88th minute. Denissen received a through ball from Harmse and placed his kick past Restrepo.
Tampa Bay once again went in search of the equalizer, but the Scorpions defense withstood the pressure and closed the match out. The Rowdies continue to be winless at home during league play.
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|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
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|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|