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Rowdies open NASL season with 0-0 draw

Rowdies defender Zac Portillos, left, fights for possession with Indy Eleven midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic. “Frustrated we didn’t get three points. We didn’t turn our dominance into goals,” Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell says.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Rowdies defender Zac Portillos, left, fights for possession with Indy Eleven midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic. “Frustrated we didn’t get three points. We didn’t turn our dominance into goals,” Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell says.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies dominated possession the entire second half on Saturday but could not solve Indy Eleven, settling for a scoreless draw in their NASL season opener before 5,740 at Al Lang Stadium.

Tampa Bay ended with a 12-6 shot advantage, nine coming in the second half.

"Honestly, the last pass killed us," midfielder Eric Avila said of Tampa Bay's inability to finish after steady buildups.

The last pass was actually perfect in the 52nd minute but Indy's goalkeeper, Jon Busch, was there to stop the Rowdies' most dangerous chance. Kalif Alhassan's feed to Tommy Heinemann was perfectly crafted but Busch dove to stop it. Alhassan continued to serve as main creator along with Avila, and had another in-close setup for Junior Burgos six minutes later.

All four are new to the roster. Avila posed a threat several times in the second half, but Indy's defense proved sturdy. He had a shot from 20 yards in stoppage time but it went right to Busch.

"Frustrated we didn't get three points. We didn't turn our dominance into goals," Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said.

Several players more familiar to Rowdies fans either came on late, like Georgi Hristov in the final 20 minutes, or didn't even make the list of eligible subs — namely Freddy Adu and defender Stefan Antonijevic, who started every game on defense when not injured last season.

Indy's best threat came in the 78th minute on a corner kick but Rowdies captain Tam Mkandawire came up with a necessary clearance.

"We didn't give up a lot of chances … we'll take that. Of course you want to win every game but in reality that's not going to happen," Rowdies keeper Matt Pickens said.

There was one shot on target combined in the first half and that was five minutes in. Mkandawire's header off Michael Nanchoff's corner kick was saved.

In the 39th minute Heinemann one-timed a pass from Alhassan but it was blocked away.

"We were a little nervous, little jittery early on," Avila said.

The field was in excellent condition despite heavy rain early in the day, the new tarp at Al Lang coming in quite handy.

Rowdies open NASL season with 0-0 draw 04/02/16 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2016 10:43pm]
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