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Rowdies fall to Nashville 2-1

They fall out of second place in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference while Nashville moves up.
Sebastian Guenzatti, in a game against Charleston in June, has the Rowdies' goal and sets a modern team record for goals in the regular season. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times] [ALLIE GOULDING | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 1

ST. PETERSBURG — Sebastian Guenzatti set a Rowdies franchise record for most goals in a regular season, but Nashville had a stunning response and jumped over Tampa Bay into second place in the USL Championships’ Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory Saturday before an announced crowd of 4,022 at Al Lang Stadium.

Substitute Kharlton Belmar rocketed home a volley in the 79th minute — on Nashville’s second shot of the half, compared with 10 for the Rowdies at the time — for the winning goal, and ex-Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens made it stand up with two clutch late saves.

The Rowdies outshot Nashville 14-2 in the second half.

“I feel so disappointed for our players, I really do,” Rowdies coach Neill Collins said. “When you perform like that, you deserve to get something out of the game.”

Nashville moved two points ahead of the Rowdies (14-5-7, 49) in the East. Tampa Bay has a game in hand. But Indy Eleven is in a good position to also leapfrog the Rowdies in the standings. It is just two points back of them with three fewer matches played.

Nashville converted off a free kick in the 44th minute to take a 1-0 lead, but the Rowdies dominated the next long stretch. They were rewarded early in the second half when Guenzatti scored on a rebound of a shot by Kwadwo Poku. It was Guenzatti’s 14th goal of the year, a modern franchise mark (from 2010). He bettered the 13 of Georgi Hristov in 2017.

“I didn’t even know (about the record),” Guenzatti said. “Unfortunately, we played good soccer, they had those two chances they put away, we had many that we could have put away. They got the three points.”

Nashville slowly recovered and converted on a counterattack from Belmar. Pickens, battling cramps, made a clutch stop in the 88th minute when Malik Johnson broke in. He previously had stopped Juan Tejada’s solid go-ahead attempt in the 57th minute.

“In the second half I thought we were excellent in pretty much every aspect of our play,” Collins said. “Give me that performance between now and the end of the season and I’ll be a happy man.”

Nashville first went on top on a dubious free kick. Cameron Lancaster went down in a heap just outside the penalty box but was fine to take the free kick. His scoring try was saved by John McCarthy, but Lebo Moloto scored on the rebound.

“We had momentum,” Guenzatti said. “I thought the next goal was coming. We’re a very good team. We have more in the tank than we gave (Saturday.)”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Rowdies take on Atlanta United 2 at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. MATT MAY  |  Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Tampa Bay moves closer to a playoff berth in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference.
  2. Colombia right back Luis Orejuela exits the pitch after a match against Venezuela on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Colombia and Venezuela drew 0-0. [Ryan Kolakowski] RYAN KOLAKOWSKI  |  Ryan Kolakowski
    Colombia and Venezuela supporters in Tampa Bay converged on Raymond James Stadium for a “friendly” international soccer match.
  3. Colombia forward Luis Muriel (19) reacts after scoring his second goal during the first half of a friendly against Brazil on 
Friday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Colombia faces off against Venezuela Tuesday at Raymond James Stadium. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    Teams meet Tuesday with sights set on next year’s qualifiers for 2022 World Cup
  4. Forward Juan Tejada, left, in action earlier this season, scores early in each half to give the Rowdies a 2-0 lead over Charlotte on the way to a 3-1 win. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa Bay moves into second in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference.
  5. Sebastian Guenzatti, in a game against Charleston in June, has the Rowdies' goal and sets a modern team record for goals in the regular season. [ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times] ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    They fall out of second place in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference while Nashville moves up.
  6. ALLIE GOULDING    |   Times
Ralph's Mob cheers on the Tampa Bay Rowdies as they take on the Charleston Battery on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.
 ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    The Rowdies are promoting reduced prices and restructured seating options.
  7. The Tampa Bay Rowdies' 5-0 win over Memphis 901 FC at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday is cause for celebration. MATT MAY  |  Tampa Bay Rowdies
    The team tops Memphis 901 FC 5-0 at home.
  8. Rowdies fans cheer on their team before the start of the first half of a game at Al Lang Stadium last year. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times (2018)] JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    They have lost three of their past four games to fall to third in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference.
  9. Rowdies coach Neill Collins, shown earlier this year, sees his team miss early chances in a 1-0 loss to Birmingham at Al Lang Stadium. (Matt May Tampa Bay Rowdies)
    Tampa Bay is strong early in the match, but loses 1-0 and drops out of first place.
  10. Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Zach Steinberger (8) and Charleston Battery midfielder Angelo Kelly-Rosales (21) fight. for possession during a June 15 game at Al Lang Stadium. (ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times)
    The Rowdies are 13-2-7, with just one loss each home and away. They return to Al Lang on Saturday night.
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