Tampa Bay Sports Day

NASL: Tampa Bay Defeats Fort Lauderdale 1-0

The Tampa Bay Rowdies traveled south and across the Florida peninsula Saturday night to snatch three points against North American Soccer League (NASL) rival Fort Lauderdale.

The first Florida Derby of the year between the two long-time rivals from the Sunshine State – the host Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay – went to the Rowdies, 1-0.

Fort Lauderdale (0-2-1, 2) squandered an opportunity to take the lead late in the first half of this Spring Season match when Maicon Santos put his penalty kick off the far post and out as Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens dived in the opposite direction. Tampa Bay (2-2-1, 8) conceded the penalty when Eric Avila handled the ball in the penalty area.

The Rowdies shocked the Strikers when they scored against the run of play in the 78th minute. Neill Collins rose high over the Fort Lauderdale defense to meet Avila’s cross and sent a looping header over goalkeeper Bruno. It was the first goal in the NASL for the 32-year-old defender from Scotland.

A late diving save by Rowdies keeper Matt Pickens denied a header by Nana Attakora deep into second half injury time.

In other NASL action:

Indy Eleven 2, Rayo OKC 1
Nemanja Vukovic drew a foul, then incredibly scored on the tail end of the ensuing free kick as Indy Eleven came away with three points in a 2-1 victory over Rayo OKC.

The victory was the second straight for Indy, which is one of only two unbeaten teams in the NASL Spring Season, and puts Indy into a third-place tie (on points) with Tampa Bay pending the result of Sunday’s match between Carolina and New York.

Indy Eleven broke on top in the game’s seventh minute at Miller Stadium. Goalkeeper Jon Busch quickly launched a goal kick to Sinisa Ubiparipovic, who found Jair Reinoso with a lead pass over the top into the penalty area. Reinoso struck the ball off one bounce and powered his right-footed shot inside the far post and past Rayo OKC goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes.

Rayo OKC drew even in the 26th minute. Michel scored his third goal in three games when he struck a fantastic free kick from about 30 yards. His left-footed shot bounced and skipped past Busch inside the near goalpost.

Indy Eleven (2W-2D-0L, 8 points) returned from a week off following a late two-goal outburst to defeat the visiting New York Cosmos, 2-1. Rayo OKC (1-1-2, 4) was seeking its second straight victory after last week’s impressive 3-2 victory at the league’s other expansion team, Miami FC.

Ottawa Fury FC 2, Miami FC 0
After four games on the road, which yielded one goal, one draw, and one point, Ottawa Fury FC returned to the friendly confines, before 7,023 at TD Place, and defeated Miami FC, 2-0, in its home opener on Saturday afternoon. It was Fury FC’s first home game since last year’s semifinal win over Minnesota United in The Championship. Expansion Miami FC is still seeking its first victory in the NASL.

Fury FC (1W-1D-3L, 4 points) took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute when, Timbó, the Brazilian central defender, outmuscled a Miami defender and pounced on a bouncing ball to score past Miami FC (0-2-3, 2) goalkeeper Daniel Vega. The ball was sent into the area from James Bailey’s free kick from the left flank. Dennis Chin sealed the match with a goal deep into second-half stoppage time.

After the opening goal, the home team continued to assert itself and came close again, in the 34th minute, when Paulo Junior’s glancing header that was destined for the upper corner, was pushed over the bar by Vega at the last possible second. Vega made another big stop in the 53rd minute.

Upcoming game:

New York Cosmos vs. Carolina RailHawks
The Carolina RailHawks (4-0-0, 12) are in New York seeking a fifth win in a row to open up the Spring Season. Carolina has a perfect record led by Austin da Luz’s three goals and Tiyi Shipalane’s two. Midfielder Nazmi Albadawi, who wears the captain’s armband, leads the NASL with four assists.

The Cosmos (2-0-2, 6) dropped the last two results after conceding late goals in both contests. At home, though, the Cosmos have been incredibly strong with two shutouts and five goals scored. The combination of Juan Arango and Jairo Arrieta will look to break down what has been a solid RailHawks back line to date.