Rowdies clinch playoffs with win over New York

by Gary Shelton on October 5, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, Rowdies

Marcel Shafer scored twice for the Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

Marcel Shafer scored twice for the Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 3 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies are going to the playoffs.

The Rowdies clinched their spot in the USL playoffs with a 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls Wednesday night. Tampa Bay also moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with the win.

Tampa Bay got two goals from Marcel Shaeffer and one from Joe Cole in their victory.

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Joe Cole had a goal and an assist./CARMEN MANDATO

Joe Cole had a goal and an assist./CARMEN MANDATO

"We played really, really well,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “(We were) very assured in possession and created lots and lots of chances. It was a good game to watch in fairness.”

While it ended as a great night for the Rowdies, it didn’t start perfectly, with New York’s Stefano Bonomo giving the visitors a 1-0 lead in just the 16th minute of play.

Just two minutes after falling behind, the Rowdies pulled even with Schäfer feeding

Darnell King dribbles out of trouble for Tampa Bay./CARMEN MANDATO

Darnell King dribbles out of trouble for Tampa Bay./CARMEN MANDATO

Cole for the quick equalizer to make it 1-1.

Seven minutes after that, in the 25th minute, Schäfer played a give-and-go with Georgi Hristov that led the German into the box for a low finish past Red Bulls goalkeeper Rafael Diaz.

Nine minutes after conceding the opening goal, the Rowdies led 2-1.

"I thought we started the game in a very, very positive manner,” Campbell said. “Straight from kickoff, I think we set the standard very high, so when they scored, I wasn’t overly worried. The guys didn’t worry. They didn’t panic. They’re a good group of players, they all believe in each other and have confidence in each other and that

Georgi Hristov heads the ball for Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

Georgi Hristov heads the ball for Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

shined through tonight.”

In the 45th minute, Schäfer unleashed a rocket to the upper 90 to put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and give the home team a confidence boost heading into the halftime break.

“It was our target that today we would clinch the playoffs and we did it,” Schäfer said. “We did a great job today. The whole team did a great job. We worked hard and now we’re in the playoffs.”

New York (12-5-13, 41 points) cut its deficit to 3-2 in the 54th minute via a Junior Flemmings goal, but that would prove to be New York’s final positive for the evening.

Sabastian Guenzatti dribbles free for the Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

Sabastian Guenzatti dribbles free for the Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

The win, Tampa Bay’s 11th at home this season, set a new Modern Era club record for longest home unbeaten run at 13 games. Eleven home wins is also a new Modern Era record.

With two matches to play in the regular season, the Rowdies are now in second place, one point ahead of both the Charleston Battery and Charlotte Independence.

The Rowdies will head out on the road for their next two matches, visiting San Antonio FC on Saturday night and then ending the regular season against Orlando City B on Thursday, October 12.

Tampa Bay will open the USL Cup Playoffs the weekend of October 20-22. Should the Rowdies open the playoffs at home, the match would be played Saturday, October 21.

\Matt Pickens stops the ball for the Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

Matt Pickens stops the ball for the Rowdies./CARMEN MANDATO

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