The 2-2 draw against the RailHawks this weekend extended the unbeaten run to a club-record nine matches, breaking the previous mark that was set in October of 2012. In that opportunity, Tampa Bay had finished the regular season on a 6-game unbeaten run, while a win and a draw in the NASL Semifinals would extend it to eight matches.
“I have implored to the players that we must continue this run if we want to make it to the Soccer Bowl,” explained Head Coach Ricky Hill. “Even though this run has been positive, personally I would have liked to have won more games during our current streak.”
This past Saturday, Tampa Bay continued to show how strong the club is on the road. While the Rowdies are the only undefeated team in the NASL Fall Season, the reigning NASL Soccer Bowl Champions are now in second place, just one point behind the New York Cosmos.
Midfielder Luke Mulholland commented on the current streak saying, “it’s always good to go several matches without losing. Ricky always makes it clear that if we don’t win, we must not lose.”
The current streak began on June 22 during the NASL Spring Season, when the Rowdies traveled to Silverbacks Park and defeated the eventual Spring Champions 2-1. The defending 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Champions continued their streak by closing the Spring Season with a convincing 4-0 win over rivals Ft. Lauderdale.
When the Fall Season rolled around, Tampa Bay looked like if they were in for a long night after being down 3-0 juts 20 minutes into their opening match in San Antonio. A courageous effort by the Rowdies saw them score five unanswered goals, defeating the Scorpions 7-4 in a memorable match. With three wins, Tampa Bay would go on to draw in four straight matches in the Fall Season.
The first of those ties came in the home opener in front of a sold out crowd of 7,032 against the New York Cosmos. Coming into Week 6, draws against the Minnesota, Edmonton and Atlanta placed the Rowdies just three points away the RailHawks, who were in first place. In a decisive match on Saturday, September 7, the Rowdies pulled away with a dramatic last-minute 3-2 victory over the RailHawks, erasing the three-point gap that existed between the two clubs.
“Ricky spoke to me the week I arrived and told me about the streak we are on,” said newcomer Lucky Mkosana. “I am here to help the team and personally it was important that I was able to produce the late goal in our 3-2 win at home.”
With the unbeaten run at stake, Tampa Bay was down 1-0 in the first half of this past Saturday’s match against the RailHawks. Two goals in a span of three minutes put the Rowdies up 2-1 with just 15 minutes remaining in the match. As the clock struck the 90th minute, Carolina’s Austin Da Luz scored the game-tying goal. While the Rowdies extended their undefeated streak with the draw, Carolina also continued their prolific run at home, where they have still not lost at WakeMed Soccer Park in 2013.
Tampa Bay’s next home game will be on Saturday, September 21 against the Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium. Saturday’s match will feature the Family Four Pack special presented by the Tampa Bay Times. This includes four (4) Tickets and four (4) meal vouchers for half-off a hotdog and half-off a soft drink. For ticket information, call (813) 287-1539 or click here.
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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|