ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Sebastian Guenzatti notched his 10th goal of the season before Sebastian Dalgaard and Lucky Mkosana found the net as the Tampa Bay Rowdies took a 3-0 victory against Oakland Roots SC at Al Lang Stadium on Friday night to regain first place in the USL Championship’s Atlantic Division.
Aiming for a third consecutive victory, the Rowdies took control of the game in the early stages and in the 13th minute got their first good look at goal as Guenzatti moved to his right to create space but was closed down well by Oakland goalkeeper Taylor Bailey, who stayed up and had the shot hit his face and carom away to safety as he narrowed the angle. Roots SC’s goalkeeper made another good save to punch clear a free kick by Lewis Hilton from the left edge of the penalty area in the 24th minute, while six minutes later Bailey parried a shot by Yann Ekra over the crossbar after the French midfielder had cleverly created space to shoot from 16 yards out.
Tampa Bay took the lead from the ensuing corner, however, as Hilton’s cross deflected on target out a crowd at the near post, and while Bailey was able to make a diving save to keep it out the ball fell to Jordan Scarlett, whose shot from the left side of the six-yard area was turned in by Guenzatti for his first goal since late July.
If the first goal by the Rowdies was hard-earned, the second was of supreme quality by Dalgaard. The Danish midfielder picked up possession on the left and wove infield before powering home a shot from 30 yards to the top-left corner that caromed in off the underside of the crossbar leaving Bailey with little chance. The hosts also threatened a third shortly before the halftime whistle but Forrest Lasso’s header off a free kick from the right by Hilton went narrowly over the crossbar.
After scoring twice in the Rowdies’ last outing, Steevan Dos Santos looked to add to the lead seven minutes into the second half only to fire over the crossbar from 10 yards after a good slipped pass by Conner Antley into the right side of the penalty area. The Cape Verde forward then found the net in the 58th minute with a fine scissor kick only for the goal to be ruled out for offside on Guenzatti’s knock-back in the penalty area.
The Rowdies remain on top as the game entered its final stages, though, and with 10 minutes to go Guenzatti almost notched his second of the night with a header off a cross by Leo Fernandes that was saved by Bailey. Two minutes later, however, Mkosana put the game to bed as he pounced on a header upfield by Laurence Wyke between two defenders and then drove into the left side of the penalty area before squeezing his finish past Bailey for Tampa Bay’s third.
Oakland almost spoiled Tampa Bay’s ongoing shutout streak late in the game as Akeem Ward flicked a header toward the right corner off a cross by Soya Takahashi from the left that Rowdies goalkeeper Evan Louro just turned wide for a corner. The Rowdies saw out the remaining minutes to earn their fifth consecutive clean sheet and move into the Top 10 in the longest shutout streaks in Championship history at 531 minutes ahead of Tuesday’s trip to face the Charleston Battery.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Laurence Wyke, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Wyke notched a pair of assists on the night and won 3 of 3 tackles in midfield while completing 39 of 48 passes and having six key passes overall for the hosts.
TBR – Sebastian Guenzatti (Jordan Scarlett) 30’
TBR – Sebastian Dalgaard (Laurence Wyke) 41’
TBR – Lucky Mkosana (Laurence Wyke) 82’