ST. PETERSBURG — Should the Tampa Bay Rowdies fail to earn a first-round playoff bye or homefield advantage for a possible NASL quarterfinal matchup, the team will likely point to Saturday night's scoreless draw with Atlanta as the main culprit.
The Rowdies had multiple opportunities to earn a victory and three points against the last-place Silverbacks at Al Lang Field but came up empty in front of an announced 3,027.
The Rowdies (10-4-7, 35 points) failed to score for the first time in 10 games, since a 2-0 road loss to Puerto Rico on June 9.
"I thought we played well at times, but at other times I thought maybe we let (Atlanta) play a little bit too much," said Perry Van Der Beck, who filled in as the Rowdies coach while Ricky Hill served a one-game suspension after his second-half dismissal Aug. 4 at Carolina. "Overall, we created enough chances to win the game."
The best came in first-half stoppage time after the Rowdies were awarded a penalty kick when Takuya Yamada's right-footed volley from inside the box was knocked down by the hand of an Atlanta player.
Matt Clare stepped to the spot for his first penalty kick with Tampa Bay, but his low shot toward the right post was stopped by a diving Daniel Illyes (four saves). The PK miss was the second in as many games for the Rowdies. Mike Ambersley was unsuccessful at Carolina.
"I wasn't worried at all when we missed," said Rowdies defender Andres Arango, who got his first start since a July 12 loss at Minnesota. "It was unfortunate that we couldn't come up with the result, but the good thing is we had the opportunities. They're still coming."
In the 86th minute, Rowdies midfielder Keith Savage had a goal disallowed after Ambersley was whistled for a foul on Illyes before Savage struck the ball.
A few moments later, Savage dribbled nearly the length of the field and, nearing the 18-yard box, slipped a pass through to second-half substitute Evans Frimpong on the left wing. Frimpong had an open look from close range, but his shot sailed well over the crossbar.
"We did have quite a few chances, two or three that could have gone in," Arango said.
Atlanta (4-5-12, 18 points) had only one shot on goal, that coming in the second half. Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, a Countryside High and USF graduate, recorded his seventh shutout this season and 12th of his professional career.
The Rowdies, who travel to league-leading San Antonio on Aug. 19, are unbeaten in five games overall and their past seven at Al Lang.