Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Tampa Bay Rowdies win home opener 1-0 over Edmonton

ST. PETERSBURG — Rowdies defender Takuya Yamada isn't regarded around the North American Soccer League as a scoring threat.

In home openers at Al Lang Field, however, the 37-year-old Yamada is as lethal as any player on the field.

For the second straight season, Yamada scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win to open Tampa Bay's home slate.

In 2011, Yamada's 30-yard blast in the closing minutes lifted Tampa Bay to a season-opening win. The Tokyo native went scoreless for the rest of the season.

Saturday night, before 3,129 at Al Lang, Yamada was again the hero, scoring in the 20th minute in a 1-0 victory over FC Edmonton that improved the Rowdies to 1-1.

"I thought (Yamada) was excellent throughout the whole game," said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill, whose team lost its season opener 1-0 at Puerto Rico on April 7. "He set the tempo for us from the first minute, so it was fitting that he was the one that actually got us the first goal."

Yamada's winner came courtesy of a corner kick from Luke Mulholland. After Mulholland's cross bounced around inside the box, Rowdies defender Andres Arango saved the ball from going over the end line and dropped a pass to Yamada, who was unmarked 12 yards in front of goal.

Yamada's right-footed shot was on target, beating Michel Misiewicz (six saves) just inside the far post.

"Arango sent a great pass," Yamada said.

"I just kicked it."

Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella had eight saves. But the night's best stop came in the 29th minute from defender Stuart Campbell. He headed Matt Lam's attempt off the goal line at the last moment after Attinella was blocked tracking a corner kick, giving Lam a clear view of the open goal.

"(Edmonton) played fairly direct, which caused us a few hairy-scary moments," Hill said. "Credit must go to the players for sticking in there and defending valiantly when they had to."

Edmonton (0-2) pushed for the equalizer late and was nearly rewarded in the 88th minute when Serisay Barthelemy saw his shot deflected toward the goal. Attinella, however, quickly recovered, punching the ball over the crossbar.

"It was great to get the shutout, obviously," Arango said. "We need to do a little bit better once it's coming down toward the end of the game and learning how to control the game and take them completely out of it."

The Rowdies next play Carolina on Wednesday at Al Lang.

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