ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A pair of goals by Sebastian Guenzatti and a brilliant long-range strike by Nicky Law led the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 3-1 victory against Miami FC in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs presented by Hisense at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.
Guenzatti’s two-goal display was his second in the past four games for Tampa Bay, continuing the veteran’s late-season resurgence as the hosts pulled away for a convincing victory on home turf.
The Rowdies opened the brighter of the two sides with some early pressure, but Miami settled and was the first to find the net in the ninth minute only for Joaquin Rivas’ finish to be ruled out as Kyle Murphy was adjudged to have fouled Tampa Bay goalkeeper Phil Breno as he tried to claim a cross prior to the chance. Chances proved difficult to come by for both sides overall until just before the half-hour mark when the hosts saw Guenzatti’s low shot deflect wide of the left post off Miami’s Paco Craig.
Tampa Bay went closest to taking the lead before the break in first-half stoppage time when Law curled a free kick from just outside the penalty area off the crossbar as he took aim at the top-right corner of the net. The host struck five minutes into the second half, however, as after turning possession over in midfield, Leo Fernandes drove forward and struck a shot that was deflected and parried by Miami goalkeeper Jake McGuire. Guenzatti remained onside and tucked home the rebound from inside the six-yard area.
Miami responded five minutes later behind a piece of opportunism by Rivas, who outmuscled Laurence Wyke inside the Rowdies penalty area after a tricky pass by Conner Antley and fired a low shot that squeaked by Breno and just over the line, but it took only four minutes for the pendulum to swing back the Rowdies’ way. After a corner kick was cleared on the right, the hosts created a second chance to deliver into the box. A Miami defender headed toward the top of the penalty area, where it was met on the half-volley by Law and arrowed into the bottom-left corner of the net leaving Miami goalkeeper Jake McGuire helpless.
With 20 minutes to go, the Rowdies sealed their advancement with Guenzatti again providing the decisive finish. After a short corner was taken on the left between Dayonn Harris and Law, a curling delivery into the top of the six-yard area was headed down by a defender but into the path of Tampa Bay’s captain, who struck a first-time finish from the left edge of the six-yard box into the top-right corner of the net.
USLChampionship.com Player of the Match
Sebastian Guenzatti, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Tampa Bay’s captain continue his late-season resurgence with a pair of goals to lead the defending Eastern Conference title holder past their in-state rivals.
TBR – Sebastian Guenzatti 50’
MIA – Joaquin Rivas 55’
TBR – Nicky Law 58’
TBR – Sebastian Guenzatti 70’