Rowdies hope to lock up a high playoff spot at home Thursday night

Last night Tampa Bay got a big draw on the road at San Antonio FC 1-1

The Tampa Bay Rowdies got a much-needed draw 1-1 last night on the road against San Antonio FC. The game put the Rowdies in a very good place headed to the USL Playoffs in their first year in the league.

The Rowdies took a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute when their star midfielder Georgi Hristov put one in the back of the net. But in the 88th minute forward Ever Guzman, tied the score at 1-1 for San Antonio FC and that is where it ended.

“It was a good away performance,” said Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell. “We controlled portions of the match, maintaining possession and carving out several chances. This is a tough play to play, so I am very pleased with the performance of our players.”

He was also clear that allowing a late goal can be vexing to all coaches.

“When you concede a late goal, your immediate reaction is of disappointment, thinking you chucked away your shot at three points,” said Campbell. “It’s important to take a step back and look at the positives, especially since this is a very hard stadium to get a result in.”

Right now the Rowdies are third in the USL East with 50 points, only one point out of second behind the Charleston Battery, two points ahead of the Charlotte Independence and three points clear of the Rochester Rhinos.

Thursday night at Al Lang Stadium the Rowdies end their regular season with a big showdown against Orlando City B and a win could put Tampa Bay at 53 points. The Charleston Battery will end the season Saturday at home against the Charlotte Independence in a game that could help or hurt the Rowdies.

Tampa Bay controls their own playoff destiny and all starts with a win over Orlando City B. If the Rowdies pull off a win and a Charleston loss could give Tampa Bay second place in the USL East.

Bottom-line if the Rowdies take care of Orlando City B at home in front of a big crowd at Al Lang then they will finish the season with a playoff spot no lower than their present third position in the USL East.

“Thursday’s match will be crucial, and we know our fans will be there to support us,” stated Campbell. “It’s important for us to clinch a home playoff game, and our entire organization knows that. Al Lang is a fortress and come playoffs time, we want to host as many matches as we can.”

Scoring Summary

Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov – 69th minute (assisted by Walter Restrepo)

San Antonio: Ever Guzman – 88th minute (assisted by Billy Forbes)

Caution Summary

San Antonio: Pecka – 50th minute

San Antonio: Omar Gordon – 55th minute

Tampa Bay: Walter Restrepo – 72nd minute

San Antonio: Mark O’Ojong – 84th minute

San Antonio: Ever Guzman – 88th minute

Starting Lineups

Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Hunter Gorskie, Tamika Mkandawire (C), Kyle Porter (Zac Portillos 76′); M Martin Vingaard, Marcel Schäfer; M Walter Restrepo (Keith Savage 84′), Georgi Hristov, Darwin Jones; F Martin Paterson (Sebastian Guenzatti 77′)

San Antonio FC (4-4-2): GK Diego Restrepo; D Mark O’Ojong, Sebastien Ibeagha, Stephen McCarthy (Cyprian Hedrick 90+’), Greg Cochrane; M Ryan Roushandel, Pecka, Michael Reed (c) (Mike Seth 85′), Cesar Elizondo (Ever Guzman 77′); F Omar Gordon, Billy Forbes

The quotes and stats in this story came from the Tampa Bay Rowdies website.