ST. PETERSBURG — In a display of dominating a match and yet losing, the Rowdies fell 1-0 to Edmonton on Saturday at Al Lang Stadium before an announced crowd of 4,596.
Goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel showed why he leads the NASL with 10 shutouts by making nine saves in Edmonton's fourth consecutive win by a 1-0 score. Saturday's lone goal came in the 73rd minute on a penalty kick by Tomi Ameobi, lifting Edmonton (7-1-1, 22 points) atop both the fall and overall standings.
Meanwhile Tampa Bay (2-6-2, eight points), despite outshooting Edmonton 21-9, has dropped five of six.
"(We were a) wee bit fortunate tonight," said Edmonton coach Colin Miller, whose team's lone score came well after his team mustered a lone, non-threatening shot on goal in the second half.
Ameobi was battling for possession with Darnell King of the Rowdies in the penalty box. King's arm was up and Ameobi, headed away from the goal, stumbled and was rewarded with the penalty call.
"We're able to lull other teams into a sense that they can win, then we counterattack, and that's what we did tonight," Miller said.
King nearly made amends two minutes later, putting the ball on a tee for hard-charging Joe Cole, but Van Oekel dove for the stop. In the 83rd minute Tommy Heinemann got past the defense but shot less than a foot over the crossbar. Near the 90th minute a set piece led to 6-foot-6 defender Stefan Antonijevic getting over the defense, then heading the ball several feet over.
"This was a read bad one. This one really, really hurts," Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said.
Less than 90 seconds in the match the Rowdies had an opportunity to grab an early lead. But Cole's cross from the left side was wasted when Carlos Preciado's shot from 10 yards was right at Van Oekel.
Later in the first half Cole slipped in a ball to Eric Avila that had him all alone with Van Oekel, who made a tough stop, before an even tougher save on Preciado's rebound blast. Tam Mkandawire, up from defense on a corner kick, put a header on goal but right to Van Oekel.
"We should be two, three goals up before they score," Campbell said.
In the first half Van Oekel had five saves as Tampa Bay outshot Edmonton 9-4, with seven coming inside the penalty area. Van Oekel's toughest save came in the second half, as Preciado fired a 15-yard shot that the goalkeeper tipped over the goal.