ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies were held to a 1-1 draw by the New York Red Bulls II on Friday night as an own goal late in the first half by the visitors forced by a cross by Sebastian Dalgaard leveled the game after Luther Archimede had put New York ahead at Al Lang Stadium.
With the result, the Rowdies and Phoenix Rising FC are now tied for the best record in the Championship at 62 points apiece with three games remaining, with El Paso Locomotive FC also still in the hunt, four points back but with a game in hand.
Neither side was able to get on top early in the game, although New York’s Daniel Edelman had to make a good intervention to cut out a cross from Tampa Bay’s Sebastian Guenzatti intended for Steevan Dos Santos and turn the ball behind for a corner in the fourth minute. The visitors took the lead midway through the first half, however, as Omar Sowe played a through-ball into the left channel where Archimede outpaced his marker and slipped a low shot past advancing Rowdies goalkeeper Evan Louro.
Tampa Bay almost hit back in the 29th minute as Dos Santos headed a corner from the left by Leo Fernandes on target only for Red Bulls II defender Emir Tombul to block the effort behind for another corner kick. The Rowdies continued to apply pressure in the final third as the half went on – in the final minute of the half a cross by Fernandes found Dos Santos for a header that a well-placed AJ Marcucci saved for New York – but less than 30 seconds later Fernandes slipped Dalgaard into the left channel with a pass splitting two defenders, and the midfielder’s ball into the top of the six-yard area was turned into his own net by Red Bulls II defender Juan Castillo as Dos Santos threatened to finish.
Fernandes continued to be influential as the second half began, and in the 51st minute he played Dos Santos into space in the right channel for a low shot to the bottom-left corner that Marcucci got down well to save. The Red Bulls II shot-stopper came up big again four minutes later as Jordan Doherty lifted a pass forward that Dos Santos left flick off his right thigh into the path of Guenzatti for clear shot from eight yards that Marcucci steered away with his feet.
The Rowdies had another opportunity to take the lead with 19 minutes to go as second-half substitute Jordan Adebayo-Smith broke onto a ball over the top but couldn’t control clearly, allowing Marcucci to come off his line and block the final effort. Eight minutes later, though, it was the Red Bulls II that threatened as Jake LaCava shifted from left to right across the top of the penalty area and set up Jeremy Rafanello for a shot that was blocked by Aaron Guillen and hit the crossbar.
The chance opened a good spell for the visitors, and Mandela Egbo had a shot turned over the crossbar by Louro a couple of minutes later. Then in the 86th minute New York got out on the counterattack and Rafanello had a chance flash just wide of the left post from the right side of the penalty area as the Rowdies pushed numbers forward looking for a winner.
Tampa Bay had another big chance with three minutes to go when Fernandes played Dos Santos in on the left for a low cross that found Guenzatti, but the Rowdies’ captain didn’t get full purchase on his finish and Marcucci parried wide of the right post. The Red Bulls II were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time as Rafanello was sent off for a hard foul on Guillen, but the hosts were unable to take advantage in the limited time they had remaining as Marcucci made a pair of late saves to deny Guenzatti and Fernandes to end a standout performance.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
AJ Marcucci, New York Red Bulls II – Marcucci recorded a seven-save performance to keep the hosts from finding a winner in the second half, including six saves on shots from inside the penalty area.
NY – Luther Archimede (Omar Sowe) 23’
TBR – Juan Castillo (Own Goal) 45’