ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies and New York Red Bulls II changed places atop the USL Championship Eastern Conference standings and the Rowdies remained the lone unbeaten team in the league with Saturday’s 2-0 win at Al Lang Stadium.
First-place Tampa Bay (6-0-5) has 23 points, three more than New York, which held the top spot by virtue of goal differential heading into Saturday’s match. The Rowdies extended their modern-era club-record unbeaten streak to 12 games, which includes last week’s 4-1 win over The Villages FC in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action.
“The players were keen to go out and have a performance like that,” Rowdies coach Neill Collins said. “One thing about this group is they fight and scrap for every ball.”
Juan Tejada scored twice, once in each half, to give him four goals this season. The rookie forward, who played at Eckerd College, signed after scoring twice in the preseason.
“I was lucky to get two goals, and getting two goals in front of the home crowd was special,” Tejada said.
Said Collins, “He showed all the hard work and determination. He’s getting his reward right now.”
Early in the second half, Tejada finished off a 2-on-1 by lifting a shot high into the center of the net off a nice cross from Kwadwo Poku.
“I saw Poku running with the ball, and I saw an open space,” Tejada said. “He placed the ball perfectly for me to place it in the net.”
Tejada’s first goal came in the 28th minute. He took an Andrew Tinari corner kick off his chest before lunging with his left foot to stuff the ball between the left post and goalkeeper Evan Louro.
The Rowdies nearly had a goal 13 minutes earlier, but Leo Fernandes narrowly missed a tap-in slide in front of the goal off a David Najem cross from the right side.
Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy made two saves for his seventh shutout in 11 games.
Tampa Bay played with 10 men for the last 18 minutes after a red card was issued to Dom Oduro. Oduro fouled Sean McSherry, who was carted off the field with an undisclosed injury, and will serve a one-game suspension.
New York’s Sebastian Elney was issued a yellow card during extra time, but the team did not lose a player on the field.