PHOENIX – The Tampa Bay Rowdies stormed back from an early deficit take a 5-1 victory against Phoenix Rising FC on Sunday night at Wild Horse Pass as the defending Eastern Conference title holders became the first visiting side to score five times against Phoenix on its home turf in Rising FC history in a remarkable performance on the road.
The visitors had the majority of the early possession as they looked to establish the tempo, but Rising FC took the lead on its first good chance of the game in the 15th minute when Santi Moar was played in on the left flank and clipped a pass inside to Arturo Rodriguez, who centered for Luis Seijas for a first-time finish from close range to put the hosts ahead. The Rowdies tried to respond immediately a minute later as Jake Areman delivered a free kick from the left that was headed over by Steevan Dos Santos, but in the 24th minute the visitors found a way through thanks to a brilliant give-and-go between Jake LaCava and Leo Fernandes that saw Fernandes deliver a perfect backheeled pass for the young striker into the left side of the penalty area that allowed LaCava to shoot home at the near post for his fifth goal of the season.
Tampa Bay then went close to taking the lead on the half-hour mark as Lewis Hilton thundered a shot from 25 yards just wide of the left post before Rodriguez was denied on a volleyed finish by a fine save by Rowdies goalkeeper CJ Cochran three minutes later. The Rowdies hit the front in the 36th minute, however, as Hilton played a perfect pass into the right channel for a breaking Dayonn Harris, who beat his marker to the ball and lifted a finish over the advancing goalkeeper and into the left corner of the net for his second tally of the campaign.
The Rowdies added another before the halftime break as Areman intercepted a pass in the visitors’ half, redirecting it upfield to LaCava, who advanced and then played Areman into the left side of the penalty area for a low finish to the far post for a two-goal advantage. The night got even better for the Rowdies just over a minute into the second half when Sebastian Guenzatti won possession in the Phoenix half and quickly released Steevan Dos Santos into the right side of the penalty area. The Cape Verde forward’s shot got past the goalkeeper and was turned into his own net by Phoenix’s Sivert Haugli as he tried to make a clearance inside the six-yard area.
Phoenix tried to get back into the game in the 57th minute as Joey Calistri drove a powerful long-range shot that was parried wide of the left post by Cochran with a diving save, but four minutes later the Rowdies had a chance to add to their lead as LaCava got into the left channel on a counterattack and sent a pass across the penalty area for Dos Santos that Phoenix’s Ben Lundt got across to deny. LaCava then had a chance of his own midway through the second half that was also denied by the goalkeeper, but in the 68th minute a low cross by Sebastian Dalgaard was redirected by Ryan Flood into the net for a second own goal of the night by the hosts.
The night got worse for Phoenix with 21 minutes to go as Joey Farrell was sent off after his second yellow card for a hard foul on LaCava, reducing the hosts to 10 men, but Rising FC had a chance to pull a goal back four minutes later only for Marcus Epps’ shot to be turned away by Cochran. While the Rowdies threatened to add to their lead late – including a finish by Guenzatti that was ruled offside with five minutes to play – the visitors cruised to an emphatic victory.
USLChampionship.com Player of the Match
Jake LaCava, Tampa Bay Rowdies – LaCava recorded a goal and assist in the first half and ended the night with two shots and three chances created while completing 12 of 17 passes to play a key role in an outstanding team display.
PHX – Luis Seijas (Arturo Rodriguez) 15’
TBR – Jake LaCava (Leo Fernandes) 24’
TBR – Dayonn Harris (Lewis Hilton) 36’
TBR – Jake Areman (Jake LaCava) 45+3’
TBR – Sivert Haugli (Own Goal) 47’
TBR – Ryan Flood (Own Goal) 68’