The Tampa Bay Rowdies couldn’t have asked for a better start to Saturday afternoon’s match against the Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place.
Until the assistant referee intervened, anyway.
Justin Chavez appeared to give the Rowdies a lead in the fourth minute, heading home a Michael Nanchoff corner kick, but the goal was called off due to the positioning of Leo Fernandes, who was standing in front of Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving and may have shielded his vision from an offside position.
It was the closest either team came to scoring in a match that ended 0-0.
“I thought we scored a pretty decent goal that was ruled out,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It was a great header by (Chavez) and I don’t really think Leo made any attempt to play it, but the referee made his decision. … Their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves, but overall, it’s a good point on the road in a difficult place to play and really difficult conditions.”
Just a minute after Chavez’s non-goal, the Rowdies (4-2-2 (W-T-L), 14 points) were back on the attack, with Darnell King feeding Leo Fernandes for a hard shot from inside the box, which was saved by Fury FC (1-3-2, 6 points) goalkeeper Callum Irving.
After the early flurry, Tampa Bay didn’t create much more in the match, being held to a 0-0 draw on a soggy afternoon in the Canadian capital city. Each team managed just two shots on target.
Rain fell throughout the match and neither team quite figured out how to connect passes on the wet turf and click offensively.
Tampa Bay was without one its most influential attacking players, with Joe Cole ruled out of the match during pregame warmups with a hamstring injury.
“He had a little hamstring injury, hopefully nothing too severe,” Campbell said. “We try to give him every opportunity to be involved because he’s such an important player for us, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be today and he missed out.”
The clean sheet was Tampa Bay’s fifth in eight matches to start the season.
“I think there’s a lot of positives to take out of this performance today as we build toward playing Louisville next weekend,” Campbell said.
Up next, the Rowdies return home to host Louisville City FC at Al Lang Stadium for the first time on Saturday, May 13.
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov – 18th minute
Rowdies: Justin Chavez – 29th minute
Rowdies: Darnell King – 33rd minute
Fury FC: Michael Salazar – 63rd minute
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1) –GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Damion Lowe, Neill Collins, Marcel Schäfer; M Justin Chavez, Martin Vingaard; M Michael Nanchoff (Alex Morrell 87′), Georgi Hristov, Leo Fernandes (Martin Paterson 78′); F Deshorn Brown.
Fury FC (3-4-3) – GK Callum Irving; D Shane McEleney (Eddie Edwards 8′), Ramon Martin Del Campo, Kyle Venter; M Jonathan Barden, Lance Rozeboom (c), Sergio Manesio, Aron Mkungilwa; F Michael Salazar (Jamar Dixon 74′), Steevan Dos Santos, Ryan Williams (Sito Seonane 61′)