The Tampa Bay Rowdies lead Minnesota United FC 1-0 at the interval after Shane Hill pounced for an opportunistic goal right before half time.
Despite dominating the Rowdies with an 8-3 shot advantage and winning nine corner kicks, Minnesota trailed at the break for the fourth consecutive game.
“It’s an excellent finish and that’s the first bit of quality play we’ve had in the first 45 minutes and we’re delighted to be ahead,” said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill.
“When you go on the road you hope you can stay in the game and the players have shown some great resolve. I hope in the second half we can create some better possession.
“Overall I’m pleased with the effort of the players and I think the resolve has shown through.”
Each team had one quality chance in the early going. Miguel Ibarra's cross set up Etienne Barbara for a volley from a tight angle, and the Maltese striker drew a diving save from Tampa Bay keeper Diego Restrepo. At the other end, Shane Hill's volley from 20 yards out was struck well after a partial clearance, but his shot was right at Minnesota goalkeeper Daryl Sattler.
The rest of the half was almost all Minnesota, as Barbara and Pablo Campos each drew saves out of Restrepo, who had four first-half saves. Bracalello and Ibarra were also heavily involved in the attack for Minnesota, as were outside backs Justin Davis and Brian Kallman, who made more of a threat moving forward than previous games.
Despite the solid play and limiting Tampa Bay's chances—two blocked Mulholland shots made up the remainder of the Rowdies' chances prior to Hill's goal—Minnesota trailed at the break as Hill made the most of a half chance. Sattler came off his line to punch a cross away from former Minnesota forward Amani Walker at the top of the box. His punch looped right into Hill's path, and the English midfielder lobbed a shot over Sattler and two United FC defenders on the line to stake Tampa Bay to a 1-0 lead.
“It was a good first half and I acknowledge that we’re playing well, but we gave up a tough goal there with a mistake,” said United coach Manny Lagos.
“It’s tough going in a goal down with the type of play we had. We have 45 minutes to get back at it and hopefully play even better and get some goals.”
Minnesota United is without team captain and center back Kyle Altman, who sustained concussion during the week at training. Kevin Friedland will make his first appearance of the season at center back for Minnesota, while center midfielder Bryan Arguez has replaced Michael Reed after a strong showing in the second half of last weekend's 2-1 loss at Fort Lauderdale.
Tampa Bay has named a strong lineup with speed on the wings and former Minnesota players Andres Arango (defender), Luke Mulholland (midfielder) and Amani Walker (forward) starting. Former Minnesota defender Devin Del Do is on the bench for Tampa Bay as well.
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