Minnesota United FC battled back from a fourth straight halftime deficit, but Keith Savage's 90th minute goal gave the opportunistic Tampa Bay Rowdies a 3-2 victory at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Rowdies seized control and moved level on points with the Carolina RailHawks at the top, taking second place by virtue of goal difference.
“I’m really delighted to come to Minnesota and get all three points and I think on the balance of play they will be disappointed but I was delighted with my team’s resolve throughout the game,” said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill. “At 2-2 we still pushed for what turned out to be the winner.”
Michael Reed's first professional goal and Simone Bracalello's strike 10 minutes later had cancelled out strikes from Shane Hill and Luke Mulholland in a game both teams attacked aggressively late in a push for all three points.
“We made some mistakes to put us in a difficult situation in falling behind twice and not be able to get back at the end,” said United coach Manny Lagos. “We’ve got some work to do.
“Little plays at the end of halves add up. It was an exciting game for sure for the fans but for us it’s a tough loss and we need to pick our heads up and think how we get better.”
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.
Minnesota responded by starting the second half with the same intensity as the first, and substitute Michael Reed rewarded their aggression with his first professional goal after 54 minutes. Bracalello held up play well before feeding Reed's late run, and the second-year midfielder slid to beat Restrepo to tie the game.
The tie lasted only seconds before Mulholland beat Davis to a loose ball and spotted Sattler off his line, chipping Minnesota's goalkeeper from 18 yards out for his fourth goal of the season.
“I gave the ball away for their first goal so I had to make amends for that and was happy to be able to do so,” explained Mulholland. “Our away record is fantastic is now and we’re a lot more stable and protective of the goal.”
Ten minutes later, Bracalello and Campos combined to bring Minnesota level. Bracalello played a quick one-two with Campos before pushing his way through two Tampa Bay defenders and firing low past Sattler for his team-leading third goal of the season.
Both sides were aggressive late in the pursuit of the win. Minnesota had a goal wiped off the board after Campos was called offside in putting a shot off the post, negating the tap-in on the rebound. Cristiano Dias also had two chances after getting open on set pieces, but he had a header saved easily and skied a volley.
The Rowdies brought two sprawling saves out of Sattler to tip the ball over the bar, and Shane Hill had a shot deflect wide off his own teammate from a late set piece.
The game looked destined for a tie before Savage's late heroics earned Tampa Bay all three points and dropped Minnesota to its second straight loss. Georgi Hristov broke down the right wing and crossed low. Defender Kevin Friedland, running back toward his own net, couldn't get enough power to clear the ball, which fell for Savage to slam past Sattler to make it 3-2 with too little time for Minnesota to muster another shot on goal.
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|New York Cosmos||14||9||4||1||10||31|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
|San Antonio Scorpions||12||6||2||4||4||20|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|