In the final minute of the game, a full half of added scoring pressure brought the Rowdies to the brink of a game-winning score against Loudon United Saturday night.
Forward Leon Taylor deflected a pass towards the net, but it sailed just to the right of an open goal.
Taylor fell to the turf at Al Lang Stadium, a picture of frustration that personified the Rowdies oh-so-close night.
Tampa Bay settled for a scoreless draw moments later, and while it remains unbeaten at 2-0-2 and sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, it had several chances to score against Loudon and possibly walk away with its third victory.
“At home, when you dominate and create the chances we created, it’s always two points dropped (rather than one point earned,)” Rowdies coach Neill Collins said. “I’m very, very frustrated. I’m sure the players are really frustrated and the fans most of all are frustrated because they come to see the team score goals. We’re having a different conversation if we converted our chance in the first half, but we didn’t.”
Tampa Bay dominated across the board statistically, and did particularly well outshooting Loudoun in the second half, but Loudoun keeper Earl Edwards Jr. made several key saves to deny the Rowdies. For the game, the Rowdies took 11 shots on the night (three on target) compared to five (one on target) for the visitors.
Most of those shots came in the second half, but the Rowdies also missed a prime scoring chance in the first half. Sebastian Guenzatti looked to finish a pass from Leo Fernandes, but his it hit the post and Edwards caught it before the Rowdies could follow.
Tampa Bay turned up the pressure in the second half, forcing Edwards to make more stops. A cornerkick in the 76th minute almost put the Rowdies ahead, but as with previous chances, Loudon staved off the quality chance.
Midfielder Yann Ekra sailed a direct shot over the crossbar in the 86th minute, igniting a series of near chances for the Rowdies in the closing minutes of regulation.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said midfielder Andrew Tinari, who earned his first start Saturday. “We could’ve moved the ball a little quicker in the final third. We got a point, so I can’t complain, but going forward we need to be a little sharper and find a way to finish the game.”
Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy made one save, adding to his league-best third clean sheet of the young season. Tampa Bay has allowed only one goal and has yet to concede a score in open play. St. Louis is the only opponent to score on the Rowdies, but that was on a free kick.
Contact Ernest Hooper at [email protected] Follow @hoop4you.