Richie Menjivar's Strike Moves Rowdies Into Final Postseason Place Heading Into Final Weekend

The Salvadoran international's strike from distance leads Tampa Bay to crucial victory
Tampa Bay Rowdies Staff | Oct 24, 2015

The Tampa Bay Rowdies took control of their own destiny in the postseason race on Saturday night with an edgy, 1-0, win over the Carolina RailHawks in front of 6,973 fans at Al Lang Stadium.

Tampa Bay’s win, paired with a 2-1 Indy Eleven win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, means that if the Rowdies win their season finale in New York next week, the Rowdies will qualify for The Championship, the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament. The Rowdies now lead the Strikers by one point in the Combined Standings.

Richard Menjivar scored the lone goal of the night in the 12th minute, firing a hard shot from distance to put Tampa Bay into the lead. The Rowdies were unable to add to their lead and faced a nervy final 20 minutes, but did enough to preserve the clean sheet and earn all three points.

“I’d like to say I was standing there cool, calm, and collected, but I wasn’t,” Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell said of the final stretch of the match, when Carolina was on the front foot and looked likely to score. “It’s nice to be here having won the game in that matter, rather than standing here wondering about the chances that we missed. I’ve got to give credit to the whole team defensively, not just the back four. They showed tonight how much this game meant to them.”

Carolina attackers Tiyi Shipalane and Nacho Novo had their fair chances at scoring throughout the match, but each time, a Rowdies defender put his body on the line to block the shot or deflect it or close the shooting window. Each time a shot made it through to goal, goalkeeper Matt Pickens made the save.

“We had plenty of chances and got unfortunate with their goalkeeper making some good saves, but we played a great game tonight all over the field,” Rowdies defender Ben Sweat said. “Everyone was defending well tonight, so that was a huge boost.”

Tampa Bay could’ve scored another goal or two of its own, with Maicon Santos, Darwin Espinal, and Georgi Hristov all among those who could’ve scored on the night, but Menjivar’s lone goal was more than enough for the Rowdies.

“I was actually looking to pass, but I saw the window open and decided to take a crack at it,” Menjivar said. “I had a feeling it was going to go in. I hit it well and luckily it went in.”

With Saturday’s results in the book, the Rowdies now travel to New York next week to battle the Cosmos on Halloween night with a berth in The Championship on the line.

“If you had said to me Monday morning that come 10 minutes to 10 o’clock on Saturday night, that we’d be in control of our own destiny, I’d have absolutely snapped your hand off [to take the deal],” Campbell said. “The whole team did great. Their effort, their application was exactly what I asked for.”

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