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Rowdies pull into tie for fourth after draw with Miami FC

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For a night, a fan of the Tampa Bay Rowdies might have been a little disappointed.

Still, a glance of what is to come is enough to get excited over.

The Rowdies fought to a 1-1 draw with Miami FC Saturday night, which pulled Tampa Bay into a three-way tie for fourth place in the NASL combined standings. Tampa Bay, Miami, and Minnesota all have 36 points on the season.

Eric Avila scored in the 31st minute for the Rowdies, who led for most of the match. But Miami tied the game in the 74th minute when Rhett Bernstein scored the equalizer.

“It’s a tough point against Miami FC, a very good team,” Rowdies’ coach Stuart Campbell said. “I felt we did enough to win the game. We knew how big this was. You could sense the importance of the game because of the atmosphere and intensity in the building. You could sense the anticipation and the excitement coming into the game.”

The Rowdies took the lead when Georgi Hristov fed Avila.

“In training, I’ve been working on coming in from the right onto my left foot,” Avila said. “I’m happy it went in. … It was a really intense match. I think the first 15 minutes were intense as we tried to figure each other out. Toward the end, I think we were both really tired and things opened up.”

Rowdies forward Carlos Preciado had the best chance to break the deadlock, but fell just a few feet short of a go-ahead goal in the 81st minute, chipping Vega and putting his shot on target, but Miami FC defender Mason Trafford made a nice save in a dramatic moment.

The Rowdies now have a quick turnaround before hosting Minnesota United FC Wednesday night in another crucial match.

“We’re back in training tomorrow, so after that, this match is gone,” Campbell said. “We can’t change this result tonight, but we’re disappointed because we wanted to win.”

Wednesday night’s game starts at 7:30 p.m.

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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