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Rowdies’ defense dominates in welcome 0-0 draw

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies held host team Ottawa Fury FC scoreless on Saturday afternoon up in the Canadian capital, playing the club to a 0-0 draw at TD Place Stadium.

“It’s a pretty good result at the end of the day,” said Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen, as first reported by RowdiesSoccer.com. “A draw on the road is a good thing for us. We played well in stretches and created a few chances. We’re not pleased, but we’re lucky to get out of here with a draw and we’ll take it.”

With the draw, the Rowdies fall to third place in the NASL standings, sitting behind the first place New York Cosmos and the now second-place Jacksonville Armada FC, who the Rowdies defeated at home two weeks ago.

Of the seven shots on goal in the first half — three by the Rowdies and the other four by the Fury — the closest to finding its mark was a 10th minute free kick by Fury midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic. Ubiparipovic’s shot, which made its way through the Rowdy wall, landed in the outstretched hands of a diving Matt Pickens, the Rowdies’ stellar, former substitute goalie who started the past two matches for the Rowdies. Pickens dove low and to the left to make the save.

“We have two number one [goalies],” said coach Rongen to RowdiesSoccer.com. “Let the best man win the duel, so to speak. I’m very pleased for Matt.”

Despite the first half’s non-existent goals, quite a bit of action still managed to play out. Early on, stand-out Fury defender Rafael Alves and Fury goalkeeper, Romauld Peiser, had a violent collision while defending a Rowdies cross in the box. The collision ultimately led to Alves’ exit from the game in the in the 24th minute.

Later, in the 34th minute, Rowdies midfielder Marcelo Saragosa got his chin sliced by a cleat during the 34th minute, resulting in some modest bloodshed and a six-minute hiatus from play. The gash would re-open many times throughout the match, leading to Saragosa’s eventual exit in the 76th minute.

Before the match came to a close, both teams would dig deep for a score.

In the 79th minute, Rowdies second-half substitute forward Robert Hernandez feathered a perfect little lob pass into fellow forward Corey Hertzog, near the penalty spot. Hertzog played it by blasting off a one-touch laser shot towards the goal. Too much was left on it though, as the ball soared over the crossbar and nearly landed in the stands.

The Fury’s final push came off a clever shot from the top right corner of the Rowdies’ box by defender Mason Trafford, who was playing up in a last-ditch effort to add some points to the board. The shot was headed away by Rowdies defender Tamika Mkandawire feet in front of the goal.

The game represented the Rowdies’ second shutout of the spring season, which is six games in so far. Kamil Contofalsky recorded the first goose-egg against Minnesota United FC on April 11.

“I’m pleased for the team,” said coach Rongen to RowdiesSoccer.com following the game. “We were able to keep the zero. I said at the beginning of the season that we should be a team that shouldn’t concede much.”

The Rowdies return home to play three of their next four matches. Next Saturday’s will be against the third team included in the NASL’s Florida Coastal Cup rivalry, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The match will take place at Al Lang Stadium on May 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Photo via RowdiesSoccer.com.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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