The Tampa Bay Rowdies played to a scoreless draw against the visiting New York Cosmos in front of a sold out crowd of 7,032 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday night.
The game between the two NASL rivals began as a very back-and-forth contest with the changing possession in the beginning minutes.
Scoring chances were very limited, however both teams were able to get a couple weak efforts on target but nothing was able to really trouble either goalkeeper.
“I’m very happy with the clean sheet,” said Rowdies coach, Ricky Hill. “We scored seven goals last week, however we didn’t have enough opportunities in this game as far I was concerned.”
The Cosmos had the first real opportunity of the game off of a corner. The cross was headed low and to the left of Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, but the keeper was able to get down and save the shot.
New York threatened once more when midfielder Joseph Nane directed a header onto Restrepo’s post in the 21st minute. They threatened again when midfielder Peri Marosevic played a low cross which forced Restrepo to dive and collect the ball.
The Rowdies then got a very solid opportunity to break the deadlock in the 38th minute when forward Carl Cort broke free on goal, but his shot from the top of the 18 yard box was saved low to Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Reynish’s left.
The Rowdies were awarded a free kick from 25 yards out in the 43rd minute which Luke Mulholland sent just wide of Reynish’s net, forcing the keeper to fully extend himself.
In the second half, the 2012 NASL champion Rowdies started quickly, with Mulholland sending in a cross after just one minute which the Cosmos had to head behind for a corner. Forward, Georgi Hristov, was lurking at the far post, had the ball not been sent behind.
Tampa Bay had another chance to score the first goal of the game in the 54th minute when Mulholland sent a free kick into the Cosmos’ box from around midfield with defender Jay Needham sending his header over the goal.
As the half progressed, the Cosmos began to pile pressure onto the Rowdies’ net, resulting in a couple chances for the New Yorkers, all blocked by a stout Tampa Bay defense. Rowdies’ midfielder Evans Frimpong almost put Tampa Bay ahead with a shot from distance which was deflected just wide of the Cosmos’ net.
New York came just short of scoring when midfielder Marcos Senna was sent in on goal in the 66th minute. The former Spanish international saw his shot from very close range saved by a diving Restrepo. Senna had a free kick saved in the 75th minute from 30 yards out.
The Cosmos also had three shots saved off of the goal line in the 77th minute as a result of a corner. Restrepo did well to come back across to block a shot with his legs. The Rowdies went right back across the field and had a goal disallowed to an offsides given against Georgi Hristov.
“Diego (Restrepo) came up big for us and made several huge saves for us,” Hill added. “We were hoping to put a bit more pressure on them so we are a bit disappointed with that.”
Hristov almost put the Rowdies ahead once more, but his left footed shot went over the bar after he was played in on the left flank. Luke Mulholland received his second yellow card of the game and was sent off in stoppage time of the second half, but the Cosmos did not have enough time to capitalize on their advantage and the game ended in a scoreless draw.
“It was a very demanding game and we have to give credit to Tampa they made it difficult for us, but we were able to find some open space to create chances, however we were unfortunate not to score hitting the post on a couple of occasions,” said Cosmos coach, Giovanni Savarese. “We created many good chances in the second half and put on a great performance for the crowd in attendance.”
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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|