TAMPA — In hindsight, it was a good point for the Rowdies against one of the league's best teams.
And the last-minute goal it took to earn that point could prove crucial to Tampa Bay's hopes of making the U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 playoffs.
Austin looked to be on its way to a win Thursday at Steinbrenner Field. But second-half sub Aaron King scored in stoppage time for a 1-1 draw.
"(Thursday night) was just a battle, and fair play to the guys for battling all the way to the end," Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish said.
Tampa Bay (6-10-11, 29 points) is five points behind Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot in the 12-team league despite going 0-6-3 in its past nine. Tampa Bay has a game in hand.
King found himself in the right place at the right time. Rob Valentino found space in the box and fired a shot off the left post. It bounced right to King, who put the ball in an open net for his team-leading 10th goal. "There's been desperation for the last couple months," King said. "We're just trying to get it together and make that run to the playoffs."
The Aztex, who were outshot 8-4 in the first half, scored in the 50th minute when Leonard Griffin found space on the right wing and sent a bending cross into the box. Maxwell Griffin headed it in over the outstretched arms of goalie Josh Lambo, who made his fifth appearance with Daryl Sattler sidelined with a groin injury.
Dalglish said he believed his team competed well with the Aztex, whose 51 points are second in the league.
The Rowdies have three games left. Two are at home, including against Minnesota on Sept. 24.
"I think the Minnesota game here — I don't really like the term must-win — but that's when it becomes must-win," Dalglish said, "when you've got to win to stay in the playoffs."