Tampa Bay Sports Day

NASL: Tampa Bay Rowdies and Puerto Rico FC Play to Scoreless Draw

The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Puerto Rico FC tied 0-0 at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on Saturday night. Despite both clubs creating chances throughout the match, neither could get on the score sheet to earn the three points.

“In the first half, they pressured us high up the field but we were also able to create chances of our own,” commented Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell. “I took a gamble in the second half with the two substitutions but unfortunately we weren’t able to come away with the win. Credit to our players for putting in a great effort on the road.”

It didn’t take long for the Rowdies to create their first dangerous chance of the night coming from a great feed into the box from defender PC. Rowdies forward Tommy Heinemann was unable to get a clean shot off, which would have given the visiting team the lead after just six minutes.

As the match reached the 24th minute, Puerto Rico FC had their first dangerous chance of the night coming off a shot by midfielder Paulo Mendes. His strike seemed to be going on target but it was redirected by PC and sent out for a corner kick. On the ensuing play, forward Hector Ramos laid a great ball off to Mendes, who from around the penalty spot sent his shot way off target.

The best chance of the night came in the 32nd minute, when PRFC was awarded a free kick just inches outside the 18-yard box. It was Mendes who almost put the home team ahead, curling his free kick from the left flank off the crossbar.

As the half came to a close the Rowdies came close to scoring, but midfielder Martin Vingaard had his shot parried away by a stretching save by PRFC goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg.

Although the Rowdies controlled possession for the majority of the second half, PRFC had the first dangerous chance in the second half. A through ball found midfielder Michael Kafari alone on goal against Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens but it was a heroic last-second tackle by defender PC that would force the Puerto Rico midfielder to take an uncomfortable shot.

“We worked on keeping our defensive shape all week long and I think it showed,” said Rowdies defender Tamika Mkandawire. “We were able to keep one of the league’s top strikers, Hector Ramos, off the score sheet and that was important for us. It was a good performance by us, where we generated plenty of chances but couldn’t get the win.”

With the match tied 0-0 and time winding down, the Rowdies were poised to look for the game-winning goal.

The Rowdies created several chances in the final minutes of play, but it was PRFC’s defense that stepped up to block all of the Rowdies chances. The most dangerous one came in the third minute of stoppage time, with Hristov firing a show on target. Goalkeeper Spangenberg made a diving save to send the ball out for a corner kick, but the danger wasn’t over.

On the ensuing play, PC received the ball on the left flank and drove in a low cross but no one was inside the 6-yard box to tap the ball in.

The match finished with Tampa Bay pressuring for the go-ahead goal, but Puerto Rico FC’s defense held their ground and grinded out the scoreless draw.

“We get to come back home and face a tough Carolina RailHawks team next Saturday and I am excited to play in front of our fans,” said Campbell. “We have a very good record at home and it’s important to come away with a win to stay in the playoff race.”