Well, that didn’t last long.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies hopes of contending for the US Open Cup were ended quickly and scorelessly Wednesday night when the team lost a 1-0 decision to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Pittsburgh broke a scoreless tie in stoppage time when Rob Vincent blasted a shot into the lower right hard corner of the net.
Vincent had stumbled as he crossed the midfield stripe, then regained his balance and shot, the ball eluding goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
The Rowdies compete in the NASL, a league generally regarded as superior to Pittsburgh’s USL. But after flirting with a goal several times in the early going, Tampa Bay seemed to be holding on to keep the Riverhounds at bay.
“You’ve got to give Pittsburgh a lot of credit,” Rowdies coach Thomas Rongen told reporters at the game. “They clearly deserved to win. It’s pretty startling to me that we can play such a great game against Fort Lauderdale and such a mediocre game here. We’re extremely disappointed,but we have to move on and learn from this.”
Despite that, the game seemed headed for extra time until Pittsburgh forced a turnover at midfield to lead to Vincent’s goal, a shot from 25 feet.
For the Rowdies, the match resurrected a familiar problem. It was the third time this season the Rowdies have been shut out, although the first two were both scoreless ties. The Rowdies are tied for second in the NASL standings, but they are only the seventh highest scoring team.
Last week, Rongen said he did not think his team was having finishing its runs, however. He predicted it would have a breakout game scoring soon.
Pittsburgh, which had defeated West Virginia 3-0 in the second round, now will host D.C. United in the third week of June.
Perhaps that will come on Saturday, when the Rowdies travel to play Indy City, the last-place team in the NASL.
“I’m very happy the next game comes so quickly,” Rongen said. “The team is very disappointed, as is the coaching staff, at the way we performed. We’ve got to get it out of our system.”