TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Rowdies suffered their first loss of the NASL Fall Season on Sunday night after falling 4-3 to the New York Cosmos at James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, NY. The old rivalry opened up once more, with New York taking the three points after scoring three unanswered goals in the second half. Despite the loss, the Rowdies remain in second place in the NASL Standings.
Tampa Bay had the first real chance of the game in the 7th minute when midfielder Luke Mulholland shot his free kick around the Cosmos wall, but his shot was caught by Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Reynish.
The Cosmos kept much of the possession in the initial stages of the first half without creating too many scoring opportunities. The Rowdies opened the scoring the 20th minute against the flow of possession. Midfielder Evans Frimpong crossed a ball to forward Lucky Mkosana, who brought the ball down and after a rebound it fell to Mulholland, who fired his shot into the back of the net.
The lead, however, did not last very long. The Cosmos equalized in the 24th minute off of a Peri Marosevic goal. Cosmos midfielder Marcos Senna played a long free kick into the box, which was headed back across the face of goal. The Cosmos took a shot, which was saved by Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo’s foot, only to fall at Marosevic’s
feet to finish.
The game became much more open after the goals, with both teams trading possession, until the Rowdies scored once more in the 34th minute. Forward Georgi Hristov scored his 12th goal of the year, slotting the ball home past a charging Reynish after being played through by Frimpong.
New York almost equalized just two minutes later when forward Stefan Dimitrov placed his header inches wide of Restrepo’s goal. The Rowdies increased their lead in stoppage time of the first half, when forward Lucky Mkosana beat Reynish to a ball at the corner of the 18-yard box and chipped it over the Cosmos keeper.
Marcos Senna almost pulled a goal back for the Cosmos at the end of stoppage time, but a diving Restrepo denied the former Spanish international.
The Cosmos had the first chance of the second half, as a bouncing ball fell to Senna at the top of the box, but his volley went straight to Restrepo. New York piled on the pressure at the beginning of the second half, sending shots just over and wide of the Rowdies’ goal, on top of several corners.
New York had another dangerous chance when Dimitrov curled a shot to the top corner, but it was saved by a flying Restrepo. New York finally pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute after putting an enormous amount of pressure on Tampa Bay. Forward Paulo Mendes was on the receiving end of Rowdies defender Jordan Gafa’s misplaced clearance and placed it past Restrepo from close range.
The Rowdies created a chance in the 78th minute off of a Rowdies corner, as Mulholland crossed the ball in but it went a bit too long. As the ball bounced away, Lucky Mkosana caught up to the ball and played a pass to forward Devin Del Do, whose shot from close range was saved by Reynish.
New York equalized in the 80th minute when forward Diomar Diaz found himself through on goal. He nutmegged a defender before blasting his shot past Restrepo.
It was the experience Cosmos midfielder Senna who put the Cosmos ahead just three minutes later, curling his free kick from just outside the box over the wall and past Restrepo. The 37 year-old’s effort secured the three points for the league leaders.
Tampa Bay began to press for goals as time ran out and almost equalized off of a Luke Mulholland corner kick. Defender Takuya Yamada flicked the cross on goal but it was saved by Reynish. The Rowdies had one last chance to score when they were given a free kick from 25 yards out in the 89th minute. It was taken by Mulholland, but his shot sailed over the top right corner of the net.
The comeback from the Cosmos not only gives them a four-point lead ahead of the rest of the league, but ends the Rowdies’ 10-game unbeaten run. The two sides played out an entertaining game, marked by plenty of chances and goals. The two old rivals will attempt to secure a spot in this season’s Soccer Bowl as the season progresses.
Tampa Bay: Luke Mulholland - 20th minute
New York: Peri Marosevic - 23rd minute
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 34th minute (Assisted by Evans Frimpong)
Tampa Bay: Lucky Mkosana - 45+ minute (Assisted by Devin Del Do)
New York: Paulo Mendes - 63rd minute
New York: Paulo Mendes - 80th minute
New York: Marcos Senna - 82nd minute
Tampa Bay: Luke Mulholland - 86th minute
New York: Ayoze - 88th minute
GK Diego Restrepo; D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Jay Needham, D Takuya Yamada, D Jordan Gafa; M Luke Mulholland, M Shane Hill, M Evans Frimpong; F Devin Del Do (Raphael Cox 85'), F Lucky Mkosana, F Georgi Hristov (Keith Savage 46')
GK Kyle Reynish; D Hunter Freeman, D Carlos Mendes (Captain), D Roversio, D Ayoze; M Marcos Senna, M Danny Szetela, M Peri Marosevic (Hagop Chirisian 57'), M Paulo Mendes (Nane 89'), M Diomar Diaz; F Stefan Dimitrov
Tampa Bay’s next two matches will be against the Strikers, with the Rowdies first traveling down to Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, October 5. A week later on Saturday, October 12, the Rowdies will host the in-state rivals at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, call (813) 287-1539 or go to www.rowdiessoccer.com,
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