TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Rowdies' rivalry with Miami FC has been branded the Coastal Cup.
Perhaps Sunday, a more appropriate title would have been the Coastal Flooding Cup.
Lightning delayed the start of the Tampa Bay-Miami match by one hour, 54 minutes.
Once both teams took the field, the few pyrotechnics came from the handful of Independence Day revelers setting off fireworks in Al Lopez Park beyond the outfield wall at Steinbrenner Field.
Neither team could generate many scoring opportunities until the final 10 minutes in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw after Miami tied it in the 90th minute. It was the second tie in as many U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 meetings Miami this season — the teams also tied at 1 on May 1 at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium.
Both teams combined for only nine shots on goal in front of 5,123.
"I think a draw is probably a fair result on the night, but it's a sore one to take when you've got yourself 1-nil up with a few minutes to go," Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish said. "It's just lack of experience, knowing how to close a game out."
The Rowdies (5-5-4) haven't won since beating Dallas-based U.S. Amateur Soccer Association side Legends FC 3-0 on June 15 in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup. Tampa Bay's last league win came back on May 29 against Puerto Rico.
On Thursday, the Rowdies learned that starting forward Aaron Wheeler would miss six to eight weeks after an MRI exam revealed a stress reaction to his right shin. The Rowdies started Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe as the lone striker in Wheeler's place, but after 10 minutes, he was moved to the left wing and Long Tan took his spot up top. In the 68th minute, Aaron King came on as a substitute for Adjeman-Pamboe to give the Rowdies another attacking option.
But none of the three strikers could make their mark in a game where good looks at goal were rare.
"We just need to work this week on trying to be a little bit more creative, trying to create a few more chances in front of goal," Dalglish said.
Jeremy Christie, who missed the past month and a half of the Rowdies' season while playing for New Zealand in the World Cup, broke through Sunday in the 82nd minute.
Christie corralled a loose ball on the edge of the box and curled a right-footed shot just inside the post and past a diving Caleb Patterson to give the Rowdies a 1-0 lead.
"It felt great to be back out there," said Christie, who took a knock on the head late in the game and had trouble remembering parts of the game afterward. "It was good to see the infield again."
The Rowdies looked to have their first league victory in more than a month, but Miami (2-4-8) scored in the 90th minute to salvage a late point.
Bryan Dominguez crossed into the box for Edward Santeliz, who headed the pass past Rowdies goalkeeper Daryl Sattler for the 1-1 tie.
"It's a little heartbreaking to be honest with you," Christie said. "We worked hard, and we've been playing some decent football."
Bryan Burns can be reached at [email protected]