MIAMI – The Tampa Bay Rowdies put in another staunch defensive effort before pulling away in the closing minutes for a 3-0 victory against Miami FC on Friday night at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Sebastian Guenzatti, Malik Johnson and Juan Tejada each found the net for the visitors, who continued to build their lead at the top of Group H in the USL Championship.
Looking to find their first points of the season, Miami opened the game well and produced the first real chance on goal as Vincent Bezecourt fired a shot from 25 yards that was saved by Rowdies goalkeeper Evan Louro. Othello Bah then had an ambitious effort for the hosts off a half-cleared corner kick in the 15th minute, but his effort from 30 yards curled just over the crossbar.
Miami continued to have the better chances as the half went on, and Bezecourt flashed a shot just over the top-left corner of the net in the 28th minute after Marco Franco’s cross from the right found him in the left side of the penalty area.
Tampa Bay would strike first, however, as Guenzatti picked up possession in the Miami half as a headed ball upfield fell kindly for him, and he surged into the left side of the penalty area and picked out a low shot to the bottom-right corner of the net. The strike marked the Rowdies captain’s fourth consecutive game with a goal.
The Rowdies had another pair of chances early in the second half as both Lewis Hilton and Jordan Doherty tested Miami goalkeeper Mark Pais from distance. Miami’s Harrison Heath also produced a good free kick from almost 30 yards that was headed for the top-left corner before being palmed away by Louro to keep the visitors ahead.
The hosts got another big chance with 16 minutes to go as a cross by Franco was controlled by Mario Williams eight yards from goal, but his finish off the bounce went just over the top-right corner of the crossbar.
But as he had a week before against the Charleston Battery, Johnson put the game away for the Rowdies late on. Picking up possession on the right, the young Canadian wove past a pair of defenders in the penalty area and fired low in the bottom-left corner of the net to double Tampa Bay’s lead.
The Rowdies then added a little salt to their in-state rival’s wound in second-half stoppage time as Tejada bagged his first goal of the season off a corner kick by Hilton. By that point, though, the points had already been decided as Tampa Bay continued its undefeated start to the season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Lewis Hilton, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Hilton was rewarded with an assist on Juan Tejada’s late goal to cap a performance that saw him record four key passes, complete 34 of 37 passes overall and make seven recoveries.