Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Tampa Bay Rowdies beat Seattle Sounders

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG

In the days leading up to the Tampa Bay Rowdies' third-round U.S. Open Cup match against Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders FC, Rowdies coach Ricky Hill suggested that his team's defense, when playing to its potential, was as good as a number of MLS teams.

On Wednesday, Hill's words rang prophetic.

Even though it was missing usual right back starter and captain Frankie Sanfilippo, the Rowdies defense repeatedly thwarted Seattle's attack, getting in the path of shots before they reached goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, tackling balls away at just the right moment and keeping the Sounders in perpetual frustration.

And when Georgi Hristov scored in the 75th minute, a raucous crowd of 4,124 at Al Lang Stadium went home delighted by a 1-0 Rowdies victory, their most significant this season.

"Saturday, we weren't great as a defensive unit," Hill said. "Today we went in with the same defensive unit and it was like night and day. All credit to them."

The Sounders, winners of three of the past four Cup competitions, had a golden opportunity late in the match when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 84th minute after Rowdies defender Jordan Gafa used his hand to clear a shot off of the line as it was headed for the back of the net and was red-carded.

Obafemi Martins took the penalty kick, and Restrepo guessed correctly, diving right to push the shot away from goal and preserve his first shutout of the season.

"I give big credit to Shane (Hill) for telling me (Martins) was going to go there from past games," Restrepo said. "Shane told me, 'He always goes there.' So I just went with Shane, and thankfully (Martins) put it there."

The Rowdies next play two road matches in their league, NASL, against Edmonton on Sunday and against Carolina on June 8. Their fourth-round Cup opponent will likely be the Portland Timbers (MLS) on June 12. Portland led the Wilmington Hammerheads 5-1 in the second half late Wednesday night.

The Rowdies scored off of a well-worked set piece. Hill, near the midfield stripe, sent a free kick into the middle of the field for second-half substitute Mike Ambersley. The St. Louis native, making his second appearance this season for the Rowdies, played a through ball into the path of Keith Savage, charging hard toward the Sounders' goal. Savage, one-on-one with goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, had his shot saved, but Hristov was free on the back post to slip the rebound into the goal.

It was Hristov's team-leading seventh goal of the season. The Bulgarian has scored all three goals for the Rowdies in the U.S. Open Cup.

"One thing Mike brings is that composure and that little bit of class in his execution," Ricky Hill said. "As it turned out, everything went well. It was three good passes. Keith found himself clear in front of the goal. The keeper pulled off a very good save, and Georgi, as he has been in recent times, always hunting, always looking to finish things off … was there."

The win was the first of the season for the Rowdies at Al Lang, against a team at the highest level of the American pro soccer pyramid.

"This was a game for (the Rowdies) to showcase themselves and to make a name for themselves in front of their home fans," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. "It's what the Open Cup competition is all about. They took advantage of that opportunity."

 
Comments
Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

TAMPA — Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has watched plenty of film on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.Kucherov marveled how the 2015-16 league MVP uses deception to "hide" from defenders. He noticed how patient Kane was with the puck, how well he passed ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

TAMPA — The Lightning entered Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks determined to avoid its first losing streak of the season. And it did in dramatic fashion, with Brayden Point’s power-play goal in overtime lifting it to a 3-2 victory. "A big boun...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Lightning-Blackhawks game

Every Lightning-Blackhawks game at Amalie Arena has a good representation of red in the stands. And Wednesday’s matchup was no exception, with a large contingent of transplants and travelers. "It feels like half the city of Chicago is traveling down ...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TodayCollege footballMississippi at Mississippi State7:30 p.m.ESPNCollege basketballMissouri vs. Long Beach State11:30 a.m.ESPN2Tennessee vs. Villanova12:30 p.m.ESPNSt. John’s vs. Oregon State2 p.m.ESPNUPortland vs. North Carolina2:30 p.m.ESPNNorth C...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund each scored two goals to lead the Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Sabres on Wednesday night. Tyler Ennis also scored, and Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter each had two assists as the Wild snapped a two-g...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Stitches don’t cool off LeBron

Stitches don’t cool off LeBron

CLEVELAND — LeBron James shook off a blow to the face and scored 23 in the fourth quarter — including 18 straight for Cleveland — as the Cavaliers won their sixth straight, 119-109 over the Nets on Wednesday. James needed stitches in the third quarte...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Basketball: USF Bulls bounce back with rout of Howard; FSU, Miami win

TAMPA — Three nights after running out of steam in a loss at Indiana, USF had enough to steamroll Howard of the MEAC.A 17-1 run late in the first half helped the Bulls to a 75-52 win Wednesday before an announced Sun Dome crowd of 2,080. USF (3-2) he...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Thanksgiving Day NFL previews: Vikings-Lions, Chargers-Cowboys, Giants-Redskins

Updated: 12 hours ago

Sports in Brief

GYMNASTICSEx-Olympic team doctor pleads guilty to abuseLANSING, Mich. — Former doctor Larry Nassar, who was accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of sex...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Updated: 12 hours ago