ST. PETERSBURG — Bolstered by two come-from-behind wins to start the NASL fall season, the Rowdies were oozing confidence before Saturday night's match against first-place San Antonio. But erasing yet another deficit proved too much to ask.
Tampa Bay fell behind by a goal in the first half and gave up another in extra time in a 2-0 loss. It is the first time in four games Tampa Bay has been shut out (2-0 on May 31 at Carolina). The Rowdies fell to 4-4-4 overall, 2-1-0 in the fall.
San Antonio (9-2-2, 4-0-0) has won six straight road games and extended its unbeaten streak to nine games. The Scorpions have not given up a goal in their last three games, all 2-0 wins.
"Sometimes you can't keep going to the well," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "I couldn't fault the guys for the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game. We were capable of scoring. Then some complacency set it. We stopped protecting the ball and turned it over cheaply."
After peppering San Antonio with three scoring chances early, a disturbing trend continued for the Rowdies in the 30th minute. The Scorpions earned a corner kick after a Rafael Castillo blast from just outside the 18-yard box was tipped away by keeper Matt Pickens. Castillo lofted a perfect kick to Julius James, who was unmarked on the right side of the box. His header from 8 yards was flicked by teammate Tomasz Zahorski. The Rowdies' Lucky Mkosana tried to clear it off the line, but his attempt deflected the ball into the goal. Mkosana was credited with an own goal. It was the seventh straight time opponents scored first, and the ninth time in 10 games.
"We had our chances and for whatever reason we were unable to score," Hill said. "During the period where they had their spell they were able to score on a set piece, which is disappointing. We worked all week on those things and then on Saturday the assignments get messed up."
The Rowdies turned up the pressure in the second half and appeared to tie it in the 60th minute as Casey Townsend buried a cross from point-blank range, but he was ruled offside.
"I thought we were playing well, we were controlling the game," he said. "For us to give up a goal like that kind of took the air out of us. We can't keep doing that. We've done it multiple times this year and it's coming back to haunt us."
The last 15 minutes was spent mostly in front of the Scorpions goal. There were several Rowdies crosses in front of the net, but San Antonio's defense managed to keep the ball out of the net.
Any chance of a tying goal was dashed in extra time. Sainey Touray, a second half replacement, was open on a breakaway and buried a shot from 15 yards into the open net.
Times staff writer Jacob Lynn contributed to this report.