St. PETERSBURG — April has been kind to the Rowdies, who remained unbeaten and broke a team record for minutes without allowing a goal at home to start a season in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with Louisville City FC at Al Lang Stadium.
Goalie John McCarthy, who came within four minutes of his fifth shutout in six games, gave up his first goal at home but not before surpassing his and the team’s record of 310 goalless minutes, set last year, with 358.
McCarthy was perturbed that the Rowdies gave away more scoring chances in the game’s second half and did not come away with a win. “Records are just a number,” he said.
Coach Neill Collins said the long stretch of keeping the ball out of the net could be attributed to the offense just as much as to the defenders and goalkeeper. “That record starts at the front,” he said. McCarthy’s “shot-stopping was fantastic. John stood up tall and made some fantastic saves.”
McCarthy made a couple of stellar saves, none bigger than a punch out late in the match off an Abdou Thiam header in front off an Oscar Jimenez cross. The Rowdies also had a bit of luck in the second half after Thiam deked McCarthy to the ground just outside the small box and his low shot from a tough angle clanked off the left post.
Thiam finally broke through in the 88th minute, getting the tying goal off a scramble inside the penalty box and beating McCarthy with a shot into the right side.
The Rowdies’ lone goal came in the 15th minute on Andrew Tinari’s rising shot from the just outside the left corner of the penalty box that ricocheted off the left post and into the far side of the net. “I got the ball in space and I took (the shot),” said Tinari, who has two goals in the past two games.
The Rowdies, who entered the game two points behind first-place St. Louis in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference, are 3-0-3 and finished a three-game homestand 1-0-2. Since 2017, they are 6-0-1 with an 18-1 scoring advantage at home in April.
“I thought the first 40 minutes were as good as they’ve played since I’ve been the coach here,” said Collins, who retired as a player at midseason last year to take over for fired Stuart Campbell.