SAN ANTONIO -- The first match of the Tampa Bay Rowdies NASL Fall Season ended with a 7-4 comeback win over the San Antonio Scorpions at Toyota Field. After trailing 3-0 in the first 20 minutes of play, the Rowdies would go on to score seven goals, with newcomer Etienne Barbara scoring his first since his arrival.
San Antonio dominated possession early and picked up their first goal of the Fall Season off of a corner kick. Hans Denison rose above everyone and headed in the set piece in front of Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo's net after just three minutes.
The Dutchman added his second goal of the match after being slotted through for a one-on-one with Restrepo in the sixteenth minute. The Scorpions scored their last goal of the first half when their new signing, Zahorsky, headed in a cross at the near post just two minutes later.
Things began to turn around for Tampa Bay when Luke Mulholland volleyed in an Evans Frimpong cross in the twenty-fifth minute . Keith Savage continued the Rowdies' comeback, and what he started with his brace against Ft. Lauderdale, in the thirty-second minute when he curled a shot around San Antonio's keeper from the top of the box.
Momentum had clearly shifted to the reigning Soccer Bowl champions when Evans Frimpong continued the comeback with a goal of his own. The Ghanaian blasted a shot from distance into the bottom corner of San Antonio's net. Tampa Bay capped off their comeback with their fourth unanswered goal in stoppage time in the first half. Amani Walker headed in a Luke Mulholland free kick to give the Rowdies a 4-3 lead after a torrid beginning to the game.
The second half was much more calm than the goal-filled first half. Barbara would make his first appearance for Tampa Bay and come on in the 64th minute. After only minutes on the pitch, forward Georgi Hristov put away his cross to make it 5-3.
San Antonio cut the Rowdies lead to one after Zahorsky scored his second goal of the night on his debut. The Polish forward curled the ball into the top corner of Restrepo's net with his left foot in the 79th minute.
When it seemed that the Rowdies would have to withstand a late push for the equalizer, Barbara added to his stunning debut with the game-clinching goal in the 85th minute. The new signing, who joined the team on Friday, was played into the area by Georgi Hristov and the forward finished with the outside of his boot.
The Rowdies added one final goal when Georgi Hristov scored his seventh goal of the season with a penalty kick in stoppage time. The penalty was given after a man in the San Antonio wall was called for a handball off of Mulholland’s free kick.
San Antonio: Hans Denissen - 3rd minute
San Antonio: Hans Denissen - 16th minute
San Antonio: Tomasz Zahorski - 18th minute
Tampa Bay: Luke Mulholland - 25th minute (Assisted by Evans Frimpong)
Tampa Bay: Keith Savage - 32nd minute
Tampa Bay: Evans Frimpong - 42nd minute
Tampa Bay: Amani Walker - 45th minute (Assisted by Luke Mulholland)
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 67th minute (Assisted by Barbara)
San Antonio: Tomasz Zahorski - 79th minute
Tampa Bay: Etienne Barbara - 85th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 90th minute (Penalty Kick)
GK Diego Restrepo; D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Takuya Yamada, D Jay Needham, D Andres Arango (Jordan Gafa 67'); M Luke Mulholland, M Keith Savage, M Shane Hill (Stuart Campbell 67'), M Evans Frimpong; F Georgi Hristov, F Amani Walker (Etienne Barbara 65')
GK Jeremy Vuolo; D Blake Wagner (Stephen DeRoux 64'), D Luka Vucko, D Greg Janicki; M Kevin Harmse (Captain), M Pat Phelan, M Jeff Jennings (Edin Husic 75'), M Walter Ramirez (Fabrice Noel 64'), M Javier Saavedra; F Hans Denissen, Thomasz Zahorski
The historic rivalry between the Rowdies and the Cosmos will re-emerge just two weeks into the 2013 NASL Fall Season on Saturday, August 10, with Tampa Bay hosting New York at Al Lang Stadium. To purchase tickets for the home opener, call (813) 287-1539 or click here.
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