Sunday, 5:30 a.m.
Finally, they can argue about this highlight or that one, or this moment or the other, or this slice of greatness or that one.
The Rowdies finally had a big night on offense in their 3-0 victory over Puerto Rico Saturday night. They scored a season-high three goals. It was only the third time in 13 games the team has scored more than onc.
Ah, and what goals. There was a bicycle kick by Joe Cole. There was a top-shelf shot by Eric Avila. There was even a 90th-minute goal by Tommy Heinemann. There was a shutout by the defense.
In all, it was a good night by the Rowdies, who had lost their worst game last week to Carolina by 4-1.
“It’s important that we got three points to bounce back from last week,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “I think there’s a couple of ‘Goal of the Season’ contenders there and I feel bad for Eric. He had a fantastic goal. … I think Joe is going to get a bit of coverage — and quite rightly so.”
Cole's goal, which came in the 10th minute, was one of those highlight plays you will see time and again. Avila's goal wasn't far off, but even Avila grinned and said “It was a nice goal, but it wasn't as nice as Joe's was.”
For the Rowdies, a team that has had trouble finishing its chances, the three goals were welcome.
“It was nice,” Cole said. “It’s always nice to score the first goal in a game and it was a lovely goal. It’ll be a nice one to watch and send home for everyone to watch, but the main thing is that the team was excellent tonight.”
Cole said the goal was instinct, the type of goal you score as kids. He thought the best part about it was that it seems to have righted the Rowdies for the time being.
“We kept pushing (even late,)” Campbell said. “The message at halftime was that I wanted to play as if it was still nil-nil and go and build from there. Apart from last Saturday, game in and game out, we’ve made a lot of chances and haven’t capitalized. It was great to make those chances again, but to put three in the back of the net was pleasing. We’ve had too many ties, especially at home, so I wanted the guys to go out and there and bounce back.”
Tampa Bay is home next week against the New York Cosmos.