The Tampa Bay Rowdies lost 4-3 in a heartbreaker to Saint Louis FC at Toyota Stadium on Sunday night. Despite having a 3-2 lead at halftime, the Rowdies would give up two unanswered goals, including the 89th-minute game winner. The Rowdies played a man down from the 85th minute onwards, as defender Damion Lowe was sent off after receiving his second yellow.
“Credit to our guys for the effort they put forth today,” said Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell. “There was a big decision that went against us late in the game and I feel the three points were stolen from us. Until that moment, we had played an excellent match.”
It wouldn’t take long for Saint Louis FC to take an early lead, with forward Daniel Jackson scoring just two minutes into the match. A long ball by midfielder Ivan Mirkovic found Jackson making a great run past Rowdies defender Lowe and the forward slotted his shot past goalkeeper Matt Pickens to make it 1-0.
The home team made it 2-0 just three minutes later, after midfielder Seth Rudolph received a great ball inside the 18-yard box and curled his shot into the back of the net.
Despite struggling early on, trailing 2-0 after only five minutes, the Rowdies cut the lead in half in the 10th minute after midfielder Marcel Schäfer fired a shot at the far post, beating goalkeeper Adam Grinwis. Schäfer’s goal came after midfielder Michael Nanchoff recovered a ball close to the center circle and distributed it quickly to the German midfielder.
Like Saint Louis, the Rowdies (10-7-6 (W-T-L), 37 points) scored a second goal just minutes after their first of the night. Forward Georgi Hristov capitalized on a series of rebounds inside the 18-yard box to equalize the match and shift the momentum in favor of the visiting team.
Even after erasing an early 2-0 deficit with a pair of quick-fire goals, the Rowdies weren’t done.
In the 36th minute, a perfectly placed cross by defender Kyle Porter found a diving Martin Paterson, who headed the ball into the net to give the Rowdies the 3-2 lead. Grinwis was able to get a hand on the header but could not keep it out of the net.
“The team showed tremendous character to come back and score three goals,” said Campbell. “It’s never good when you concede two early goals, but I was proud of them for stringing together three goals before halftime.”
The second half didn’t start off with the same scoring pace as the first half, but both teams came out with the same intensity.
In a back-and-forth match with plenty of chances, Saint Louis (7-5-9, 26 points) would find the equalizer in the 67th minute. Rudolph scored his second goal of the night off a header to the far post, leaving Pickens with no chance to get a hand on it.
“I am disappointed with the third goal,” said Campbell. “As a team, we could have defended much better.”
Lowe would receive his second yellow of the match in the 85th minute, leaving the away side down a man for the closing minutes.
Just four minutes later, Saint Louis would find the game winner. After the initial clearance by the Rowdies, Mirkovic sent in a low shot into the heart of the box, getting deflected by defender Konrad Plewa on the way. The Polish native’s redirection left no chance for Pickens who was diving the other way, and Saint Louis took the 4-3 lead.
The Rowdies were unable to create any magic in the final minutes, seeing their unbeaten streak come to an end.
“We played a very good game, especially on the road,” commented Campbell. “We created numerous chances and were able to score three goals. It’s a tough result but if we play like this, we’ll be able to pick up important points on the road.”
Up next, the Rowdies will host Ottawa Fury FC at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, August 19.