News Section: Sports
Rowdies Draw with Minnesota United FC in Spring Finale
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Minnesota United FC finished the final game of the NASL Spring Season with a 3-3 draw in front of a lively crowd at Al Lang Stadium. With the draw, Minnesota United clinched the NASL Spring Season championship and a berth in The Championship.
"It's mixed emotions (in the locker room) right now," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "I think they should be quite happy with the overall matter of how they went about the work tonight in the game, but I'm still quite disappointed with the manner of how we conceded the goals. We're definitely disappointed to not get all three points, but we'll feel a little bit better because, as an offensive unit, we looked a little bit more like our old selves."
The two sides played an open game with each team creating several legitimate chances with plenty of those turned into goals. The scoring was opened by Minnesota in the 12th minute when Justin Davis put the visitors ahead. Jamie Watson played the ball to Davis in the box, who looped his shot over Rowdies goalkeeper Cody Mizell to give United the lead.
The home side managed to claw their way back into the tie through goals from Blake Wagner and Lucky Mkosana in the 33rd and 45th minutes, respectively. Wagner’s half-volley was the end product of a nice piece of play for the home side. Georgi Hristov was played down the right flank before lofting the ball to the far side of the box for Wagner to finish. Mkosana was not left with much to do after his captain, Frankie Sanfilippo, played him a through ball down the right flank. Mkosana coolly slid the ball under the United goalkeeper to give Tampa Bay the lead.
It did not take United too long to make things even once more as they leveled the score at 2-2 just 12 minutes into the second half. Watson notched his second assist of the night when he played a low cross to midfielder Daniel Mendes, who slotted the ball past a diving Mizell. Minnesota took the lead for a second time when Miguel Ibarra curled a shot with his left foot past Mizell in the 61st minute. The through ball behind the Rowdies defense narrowly escaped the foot of Rowdies defender Kyle Clinton and left Ibarra clear on goal.
Sanfilippo brought the two sides even again in the 74th minute. The skipper provided a headed finish for Wagner’s corner at the far post. United keeper Mitchell Hildebrandt managed to get a hand on it, but it was not enough to keep Sanfilippo’s effort out.
"We could have come away with a victory instead of a tie," Sanfilippo said. "There were times where we had more possession of the ball and more opportunities. We didn't lose, but we didn't win. We've got to be better in the fall season."
United withstood the late onslaught from Tampa Bay throught three minutes to secure the Spring Season title. United successfully dealt with two dangerous corners in stoppage time to maintain their place atop the table. The two sides shared the points, which is a result that was representative of how the game was played.
"The philosophy of our side tonight was a lot better than in recent times," Hill said. "We still have a penchant to concede very, very ordinary goals. I think that's two points dropped, but congratulations to Minnesota for clinching home field advantage on the road to the Soccer Bowl."
Now, the Rowdies will enjoy the midseason break before gearing back up the Fall season with a pair of blockbuster exhibition matches against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on July 4 and Orlando City Soccer Club on July 6. 2-for-1 tickets for those matches are available using the promo code "BOGO" here, or by calling (877)ROWDIES.
Tampa Bay XI (4-4-2) : GK Cody Mizell; D Frankie Sanfilippo (c), Kyle Clinton, JP Rodrigues, Anthony Wallace; M Lucky Mkosana, Shane Hill, Darel Russell, Blake Wagner; F Georgi Hristov, Casey Townsend (Carl Cort 86')
Minnesota United FC XI (4-4-1-1) : GK Mitch Hildebrandt; D Brian Kallman, Tiago Calvano, Aaron Pitchkolan (c), Justin Davis; M Daniel Mendes (Omar Daley 75'), Juliano Vicentini, Greg Jordan, Jamie Watson (Cristiano Dias 81'); F Miguel Ibarra, Christian Ramirez (Richard Garcia 90')
Minnesota United FC: Justin Davis - 12th minute (Assisted by Jamie Watson)
Tampa Bay: Blake Wagner - 33rd minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Tampa Bay: Lucky Mkosana - 45th minute (Assisted by Frankie Sanfilippo)
Minnesota United FC: Daniel Mendes - 57th minute (Assisted by Jamie Watson)
Minnesota United FC: Miguel Ibarra - 61st minute
Tampa Bay: Frankie Sanfilippo - 74th minute (Assisted by Blake Wagner)
Minnesota United FC: Christian Ramirez - 9th minute
Tampa Bay: Anthony Wallace - 43rd minute
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