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Rowdies earn late draw with Miami on Georgi Hristov goal

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies waited long enough for their first goal of 2016.

The Rowdies went scoreless for the season’s first 175 minutes, but earned their second draw of the season against Miami FC Saturday night.

Georgi Hristov scored in the 85th minute to tie the game at 1-1 after Dario Cvitanich opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Tampa Bay had trouble solving Miami, which was playing its first home game, but got the equalizer just ahead of the buzzer.

“It was an exciting game,” Tampa Bay Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It was end-to-end and both teams tried to attack. We’re very disappointed to concede the goal we did because it was from a set piece. Before the game, we went through Miami’s strength on set pieces, so that’s disappointing to concede.

“I was happy with the reaction from the players after that,” Campbell said. “I thought we went on to create a couple of chances and at halftime we had a good chat. I was extremely pleased with the second half performance.”

On the Rowdies’ tying goal, Eric Avila was fouled inside of Miami’s 18-yard penalty box. Hristov scored from there.

“It wasn’t only me,” Hristov said. “We started playing a little bit better in the second half because we had to go all in for a goal. We tried our best and it was a very good play by Eric Avila before the penalty. The penalty was not easy, because there was a lot of pressure, but I’m happy that I managed to score.”

Between Hristov’s goal and the final whistle, the Rowdies looked likely to score a winner.

In the 90th minute, Hristov nearly scored the winner, striking a hard shot from the right side of the box and forcing Miami FC goalkeeper Daniel Vega to palm it over the crossbar and out for a corner kick. The ensuing corner kick created a chance for Tommy Heinemann, but Vega again made the save and the Rowdies were unable to get onto the rebound.

“A point on the road is good, provided you win your home matches,” Campbell said. “We’ve got two home matches coming up next that we’re looking forward to.”

Tampa Bay will be home Saturday night against FC Edmonton.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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