Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Tampa Bay Rowdies tie Minnesota United

ST. PETERSBURG — Minnesota United entered Saturday's NASL spring season finale against the Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium in search of a win or draw to claim the season championship and an automatic berth in the league playoffs.

The Rowdies, out of the champion­ship chase for weeks, were hoping to spoil Minnesota's title-clinching party.

In the end, the result, a 3-3 draw in front of 4,132 at Al Lang, was one that satisfied both teams. Tampa Bay scored multiple goals for only the second time in nine matches this season and is unbeaten in its past two at home after starting 0-3. And Minnesota got the point it needed to secure the spring title.

"Definitely disappointed that we haven't gotten all three points," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "But feel a little bit better because as an offensive unit we looked a little bit more like our old selves."

After trailing 2-1 at halftime, Minnesota (6-1-2, 20 points) scored two goals in succession in the second half to retake the lead, the first coming in the 57th minute when Jamie Watson centered into the middle of the box for Daniel Mendes, who shot past Rowdies goalkeeper Cody Mizell.

Four minutes later, Miguel Ibarra angled a shot from the right wing inside the far post for a 3-2 lead.

"I'm still so disappointed that we have the penchant to concede very, very ordinary goals," Hill said. "We score three goals at home, we should have been able to get three points."

The Rowdies (2-3-4, 10 points) answered in the 74th minute on a corner kick, Tampa native Blake Wagner crossing far post and Frankie Sanfilippo waiting to chest the ball between the post and goalie Mitch Hildebrandt.

"When we scored the third goal, (Minnesota) was pushed back, and I thought we were going to get another one," Sanfilippo said. "We didn't lose, but we didn't win. We've just got to be better in the fall."

Lucky Mkosana provided the Rowdies with a 2-1 lead in first-half stoppage time after receiving a pass from Sanfilippo behind the defense in the 18-yard box, dribbling toward goal and slotting a shot underneath Hildebrandt from close range.

The Rowdies started from behind for the fourth straight league match when Minnesota's Justin Davis scored in the 12th minute with a curling one-timer.

Wagner scored for the third time in the past four matches (all competitions) to tie it at 1 after volleying a feed from Georgi Hristov at the back post past Hildebrandt in the 33rd minute.

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