The revenge factor has worked quite well for the Rowdies’ opponents this season. In their three rematches thus far, the Rowdies have suffered their only three losses of the year, with Wednesday’s coming 2-1 courtesy of host Miami.
After trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Rowdies tied the score on defender Jordan Scarlett’s header from a Lewis Hilton free kick in the 51st minute. However, Miami kept up the pressure and got rewarded in the 77th when defender Callum Chapman-Page got behind the Rowdies defense for a diving header.
Miami learned moments before kickoff that its head coach, Paul Dalglish, would be unavailable due to a positive coronavirus test. Assistant Andy Thomson took over the team.
“I am okay,” Dalglish posted on Twitter. “So thankful to live in a country that has vaccines so readily available, otherwise the symptoms could be much worse. A 2-1 win against Tampa is the best medicine the players could give.”
Scarlett’s third career goal had the feel of a game changer, and maybe the Rowdies presumed too much that was the case.
“I don’t think we did enough, especially when we equalized,” said coach Neill Collins. “I think we all thought we’d all go on from that point and really take a stranglehold on the game, and we didn’t. We made the changes to try and keep that impetus and energy up, but as a team, we let the game kind of pass us by.”
The night could have been worse for Tampa Bay (8-3, 24 points). It stayed in first in the USL Championship Atlantic Division with Pittsburgh’s tie at Charleston. Miami (5-5-2, 17 points) jumped into third with the victory.
The win was a breakthrough for a team that had three one-goal losses along with a draw against the Rowdies last season, and a 2-1 defeat at Al Lang earlier this year.
Tampa Bay had the first big chance. Sebastian Guenzatti’s backheel in the 10th minute set up Max Lachowecki, whose shot was saved by Connor Sparrow. Lachowecki got the start in midfield for Leo Fernandes, who went on later as a substitute for his 100th appearance in a Rowdies uniform.
Miami went up 1-0 just past the 20-minute mark. Richard Ballard’s change of direction freed up a long ball that Pierre Da Silva sent across the goalmouth for unmarked Adonijah Reid. A dozen minutes later, Sebastian Dalgaard made a good move to set up Guenzatti in close, but the captain sailed the ball well over the target.
“We definitely had opportunities, but Miami had opportunities as well. We made the game a toss of a coin,” Collins said. “It could have went either way. We don’t like games to be a toss of a coin. When you make a couple of mistakes like we made, you get punished. Disappointed to give up three points.”
After Scarlett scored, he made a great block defensively to keep it 1-1, and in the 66th minute, Collins made three offensive-minded substitutions. But Miami got the next goal and turned away several good Rowdies chances in the closing minutes.