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Tampa Bay Rowdies eliminated from USL Championship playoffs

The Rowdies fall to two-time defending champion Louisville City 2-1 in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Rowdies were eliminated from the USL Championship playoffs after losing 2-1 to Louisville City on Saturday in an Eastern Conference quarter­final. Tampa Bay conceded goals 75 seconds apart in the 23rd and 24th minutes against the two-time defending champion on a wet, windy night at Louisville Slugger Field.

Sebastian Guenzatti gave the Rowdies hope with a goal in the 80th minute, and they had chances late but couldn’t find the equalizer.

The Rowdies, the No. 5 seed, started the match in a defensive mind-set. The plan worked for the opening 20 minutes, with neither side creating much offensively in difficult conditions.

No. 4 seed Louisville took the advantage in the 23rd minute on a counterattack when Magnus Rasmussen put a shot on target that might have been saved by Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy if not for a deflection off the foot of defender Caleb Richards.

Rasmussen struck again just 75 seconds later on a tap-in from short range to make it 2-0.

Midway through the second half, the Rowdies turned to their bench, bringing in offensive firepower in Juan Tejada and Zach Steinberger in the 62nd minute and Andrew Tinari in the 72nd.

Tampa Bay found its footing in the 80th minute when a good run from Kwadwo Poku freed the space for him to slip a simple through ball from Guenzatti, who struck it first time for his 19th goal of the year, cutting the deficit to 2-1.

The Rowdies had chances to tie the match in the final 10 minutes, but Zach Steinberger, Dom Oduro and Tarek Morad all had shots blocked.