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Rowdies come from two goals down to earn a draw

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A tie was something, at least. And for a team that has had a lot  of nothing over the last several weeks, it will do.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies rallied from a two-goal deficit to gain a 2-2 tie against first-place Ottawa Saturday night in Ottawa, giving new coach Stuart Campbell the first point of his regime. Tampa Bay scored the equalizer on a goal by Darwin Espinal in the 87th minute.

Tampa Bay had been in a horrid slump, one that led to the firing of ex-coach Thomas Rongen and ex-general manager Farrukh Quraishi. Campbell took over only two days before the team’s prior loss to Minnesota.

“They gave 100 percent and that’s all I want them to do,” Stuart Campbell said. “I don’t think there are many teams that could come from 2-nil down in Ottawa and nick a point. It’s a credit to the guys that I’m disappointed to just take one point from this match. When you’ve been on the run we’ve been on, you’re not going to win three- or four-nil, you have to turn things around step by step and this was a great step forward.”

The Rowdies trailed 2-1 at the half after Tamika Mkandawire scored, but didn’t get the tying goal in until late.

“Even though we were losing 2-1 for a long time, I wanted us to stay patient, stick to our principles and find a way back into the match,” Campbell said. “We did that and I think it worked. It feels great getting a point in the manner that we did, but I know for a fact that when we watch video of this match, we’re going to be frustrated we didn’t win.”

The Rowdies return home to continue their hunt for a playoff berth against the New York Cosmos on Saturday, September 5.

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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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