With the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ postseason hopes hanging in the balance, midfielder Richard Menjivar came through in the clutch, scoring the game-winner in a 1-0 triumph over the Carolina RailHawks Saturday. Menjivar’s performance not only vaulted the Rowdies back into pole position in the race for the final postseason spot – it also netted the Salvadoran international North American Soccer League (NASL) Player of the Week honors.
“I’m excited to be named Player of the Week, but more than anything, I’m happy that we got the result we needed Saturday,” said Menjivar. “Things are going our way and we’re in the driver’s seat for that last spot in The Championship. The team did well defensively and I try to do my part, as always. I have to give credit to the entire team for their efforts in keeping that clean sheet.”
The California native didn’t waste any time getting on the scoresheet Saturday night, firing home a picture-perfect strike from over 25 yards out to give the Rowdies the lead in the 12th minute. The goal – Menjivar’s first for the club – held up as the winner, thanks to a strong defensive effort by the back line and some stellar goalkeeping from Matt Pickens.
“I’m delighted to hear that Richie was named Player of the Week,” said Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell. “He was one of many good performers in Saturday’s win. His goal lifted us into the final postseason spot and we’re now in a good position going into the last game of the season.”
Menjivar picked a good time to score his first Rowdies goal, as the three points helped the club leapfrog its intrastate rival, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, in the Combined Standings. Tampa Bay is now one point ahead of Fort Lauderdale with one game to play, setting up what is sure to be a dramatic finish in the race for the final spot in The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament.
The Rowdies acquired Menjivar from the San Antonio Scorpions earlier this year in exchange for defender Brad Rusin. Since his arrival, Menjivar has been in and out of the side due to international duty with the El Salvador national team, but when present, he has upheld his reputation as one of the top defensive midfielders in the NASL.
Tampa Bay will need another top performance from Menjivar this upcoming weekend, as the club tries to punch its ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2012, when it took home the NASL title. The Rowdies visit the New York Cosmos Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET, while the Strikers, their competition for the fourth and final seed in The Championship, pay a visit to Jacksonville Armada FC Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.