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Rowdies lose final exhibition game to Miami; season opener next week

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It was hardly the way that Tampa Bay Rowdies’ head coach Stuart Campbell wanted his team’s final tuneup to go.

The Rowdies lost a 3-0 decision to Miami FC in an exhibition game Saturday, when “two crazy minutes” led to their downfall.

Tampa Bay gave up two goals in two minutes, then another seven minutes later, in losing their final game before next week’s season open against Orlando B.

“It’s a very flattering score for Miami,” Campbell said. “For 88 minutes, it was a good performance by us. We dominated a really good team and created more than enough chances, but then there were two crazy minutes.”

In the 67th minute, Miami’s Stefano Pinho pounced on a loose touch in the Rowdies’ defensive ranks to bear down one-on-one against goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald. A minute later, Kwadwo Poku picked off another soft pass in the Rowdies’ end and fed Pinho for his second goal in two minutes.

Enzo Rennella scored Miami’s third goal.

“The first goal was a big deflection that ended up with one of our players basically assisting their goal, which can happen from time to time,” Campbell said. “But the biggest disappointment is to go on and concede a second right away. That’s a sucker punch. We fell behind against the run of play when we were the team in the ascendency. We have to be more disciplined in that situation.”

“It was a very good performance, yet we lost 3-0,” Campbell said. “It’s preseason and I got more than what I wanted from the team because they really played a good game apart from those two minutes. But preseason or not, you still want to win and we didn’t do that so it wasn’t enough. It may not be such a bad thing in the end because there will be no complacency from the team going into the season opener.”

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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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