The reigning NASL Champion Rowdies saw their two-goal advantage disappear in the second half, losing 4-3 to the Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.
"I saw the warning signs in the first half and we didn’t deserve to be 3-1 up,” admitted Rowdies coach Ricky Hill. “The disappointing thing was they scored goals from outside the box and we backed off and let them have shots. When you’re 3-1 up you should take something from the game and we haven’t done that through our own inability as a team."
Midfielder Evans Frimpong opened the scoring in the 8th minute, putting the Rowdies up 1-0 with a perfect volley from around the penalty spot. The go-ahead goal was set up by midfielder Luke Mulholland who headed down the ball to Frimpong from the left flank. Frimpong's goal is his first this season, while the English midfielder picked up his second assist in two straight games.
For several minutes the action had calmed down with the Rowdies controlling their one-goal lead. Atlanta's forward Ruben Luna disrupted the calm in the 22nd minute volleying the ball into the back of the net. Midfielder Borfor Carr made a run down the right flank, crossing the ball perfectly to an incoming Luna in the box.
The 1-1 score wouldn't last, as the Rowdies quickly regrouped and Mulholland scored a goal of his own off the reset. The midfielder received a pass from the touchline by forward Georgi Hristov and buried the ball in the back of the net. Mulholland would double the lead in the 43rd minute, catching goalkeeper Joe Nasco off guard and burying a free kick to make it 3-1.
The Silverbacks began the second half pressuring the Rowdies and desperately searching for the goal that would cut the lead to one. Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Tampa Bay would see their lead diminish to one after midfielder Pedro Mendes caught Rowdies goalkeeper Andrew Fontein off his line. Luna would score the equalizer minutes later, beating both Fontein and Needham to the ball, pushing it into the net for the partial 3-3
"We came out strong in the first half, but their early second half goal killed our momentum," commented Mulholland. "The second half was up for grabs after their goal and they were able to turn the match around. We are disappointed with the loss tonight, but we are confident that during the week we will work on our mistakes.
The Rowdies fell behind for the first time this season in the 70th minute after Mendes scored off a strike from just outside the 18-yard box.
After continuous chances on the Rowdies goal, Atlanta was unable to stretch the lead leaving the home team with several scoring chances before the final whistle. The Rowdies failed to win or draw for the first time in 14 home games.
Tampa Bay - Evans Frimpong - 8th minute (Assisted by Luke Mulholland)
Atlanta - Ruben Luna - 22nd Minute (Assisted by Borfor Carr)
Tampa Bay - Luke Mulholland - 24th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Tampa Bay - Luke Mulholland - 43rd minute
Atlanta - Pedro Mendes - 53rd minute (Assisted by Richie Menjivar)
Atlanta - Ruben Luna - 63rd minute
Atlanta - Pedro Mendes - 70th minute (Assisted by Milton Blanco)
Atlanta - Pedro Mendes - 45th minute
Atlanta - Horace James - 60th minute
Tampa Bay - Raphael Cox - 80th minute
Atlanta - Jahbari Willis - 90th minute
GK Andrew Fontein; D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Jay Needham, D Takuya Yamada, D Raphael Cox; M Evans Frimpong (Devin Del Do 74'), M Luke Mulholland, M Shane Hill, M Keith Savage (Alex Dixon 65'); F Amani Walker, F Georgi Hristov
GK Joe Nasco; D Mike Randolph, Martyn Lancaster (Captain) (Horace James 45'), Beto Navarro, Mark Bloom; M Richie Menjivar (Captain), Milton Blanco, Borfor Carr, Danny Barrera, Pedro Mendes (Pablo Cruz 82'); F Ruben Luna (Jahbari Willis 69')
The Rowdies and Strikers will clash for the first time this season on Saturday, April 27 at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. A week later on Saturday, May 4, the Rowdies will return to Al Lang Stadium to host FC Edmonton at 7:30 p.m. For information on 2013 season tickets or individual tickets contact the front office at 813-287-1539 or email@example.com.