Rowdies advance to USL Semifinals

by Gary Shelton on October 22, 2017 · 2 comments

in general, Rowdies

Marcel Schäfer reacts after scoring his second goal./STEVEN MUNCIE

Marcel Schäfer reacts after scoring his second goal./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sunday, 3 a.m.

Now that the Tampa Bay Rowdies are into the USL playoffs, they seem as if they intend to stay.

The Rowdies won a one-sided game against FC Cincinnati, 3-0, Saturday night. Marcel Shafer scored two goals and Georgi Hristov scored one.

Tampa Bay came into the game as the third-seeded team in the playoffs. Cincinnati was No. 6.

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Head Coach Stuart Campbell celebrates playoff win./STEVEN MUNCIE

Head Coach Stuart Campbell celebrates playoff win./STEVEN MUNCIE

"You can just feel the (playoff atmosphere) in the air,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It had a playoff feel about it and the noise the fans made was tremendous.”

Georgi Hristov and Zac Portillos celebrate after making it a 3-0 game./STEVEN MUNCIE

Georgi Hristov and Zac Portillos celebrate after making it a 3-0 game./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Rowdies will host No. 7 New York Red Bulls II at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the next round. New York upset No. 2 Charleston Battery 4-0 on the road

Saturday night in the first round.

After a five-year drought from postseason action, it didn’t take long for the Rowdies to get the game going.

In just the eighth minute of action, Schäfer received a pass from Hristov in the box and took a touch before firing a low, hard shot between the legs of Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt and into the net for an early 1-0 Rowdies lead.

“At home, we’ve been very good and a lot of it is down to how we start games,” Campbell said. “We know they’re a really dangerous team. They had four really high quality attacking players on the field, so we didn’t want to give them any encouragement early on. I think from start to finish, we were excellent.”

Matt Pickens had another clean sheet./STEVEN MUNCIE

Matt Pickens had another clean sheet./STEVEN MUNCIE

Tampa Bay doubled its advantage in the 25th minute with Schäfer’s second goal of the night and seventh of the season. His shot from 25 yards out beat Hildebrandt again to put the Rowdies ahead 2-0.

“It’s always good when you start really early with a goal like that,” Schafer said. “We had a great game today in front of our amazing supporters. This is like a home fortress for us and they’re our 12th man. … It was a special day for us. That’s what you work for.”

Up 2-0 at home, where the Rowdies have lost just once in 17 matches this season, Tampa Bay cruised to the finish.

Neill Collins moves te ball for Rowdies./STEVEN MUNCIE

Neill Collins moves the ball for Rowdies./STEVEN MUNCIE

Hristov wrapped up the scoring in the 67th minute, curling a shot into the upper 90 from just outside the box for his team-high 14th goal of the year.

“It was great,” Hristov said. “It was a great game for us. We played very well and we defended very well. We won and we’re advancing to the next stage.”

Tampa Bay managed eight shots on goal and allowed just one. It was Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens’ 10th clean sheet in 33 games this year.

Now, the Rowdies move ahead to face the defending USL Cup champions in the next round. Tampa Bay split its season series with the Red Bulls this year, losing 4-2 in New Jersey on Sept. 2 and beating them 3-2 at home on Oct. 4.

Joe Cole races Berry for the ball./STEVEN MUNCIE

Joe Cole races Berry for the ball./STEVEN MUNCIE

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS October 22, 2017 at 8:15 am

More good news! GO ROWDIES!

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Gary Shelton October 22, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Have you been to a game. It’s a hoot.

Reply

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