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How the Tampa Bay Rowdies came out on top in another classic vs. LouCity

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 06/15/24, 9:48PM EDT


Attacking timing, perfectly delivered winner saw Rowdies claim 3-2 victory against Eastern Conference rivals at Al Lang Stadium.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies came away with a 3-2 victory against Louisville City FC in the first meeting this season between the rivals in the USL Championship's Eastern Conference. | Photo courtesy Mike Carlson / Tampa Bay Rowdies

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC delivered another classic encounter on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium as Damián Rivera’s stoppage time winner lifted the Rowdies to a 3-2 victory against the current Eastern Conference leaders before a festive crowd on the bayfront.

Here are three storylines we took away from the action.


Louisville had received its warning on what the combination of Josh Perez and Cal Jennings were looking to do for the Rowdies in the 15th minute when the El Salvador international’s deft chip over the top released Jennings into the left channel. LouCity goalkeeper Damian Las got off his line quickly on that occasion, forcing Jennings onto his left foot and allowing cover to get back as Arturo Ordoñez made the clearance inside the six-yard area.

The second time around, the visitors weren’t as fortunate. This time Jennings got into the siright channel, was step faster than Las, and calmly curled home his finish from a narrow angle into the open net to put Tampa Bay ahead before a defender could intervene. The Rowdies’ regular attempts in the opening half-hour to get Jennings and Manuel Arteaga in behind Louisville’s high defensive line kept LouCity’s defense under pressure, and resulted in the moment that broke the game open.


After conceding a second goal on a penalty kick five minutes after it had gone behind, LouCity needed something to get it back into the game before the break. So, it went back to a source of goals that’s been about as reliable as it gets since the start of last season, having recorded a league-high 15 goals from corner kicks – the most in the league entering Saturday – in that span to pull itself level either side of halftime.

Persistence and opportunism were central to both. While Tampa Bay’s Jordan Farr made a pair of remarkable saves to keep out Ordoñez from point-blank range, Aiden McFadden was in the right place to knock home a close-range finish from close range in first-half stoppage time. Then after a good knock-back by Kyle Adams into the danger area six minutes into the second half, Jorge Gonzalez was in the right spot to snake a shot through traffic and into the right corner.


With the game entering stoppage time level, it could have been that was it. But this is the Rowdies and LouCity and drawn meetings just don’t seem to happen around here. So, now you can add Damián Rivera’s name to the list of players who’ve provided late-game drama in this series.

Brought on with 15 minutes to go as Tampa Bay refreshed its lineup looking for a final push the 21-year-old was lively in running the channels, but in the second minute of second-half stoppage time as Pacifique Niyongabire found space to deliver an excellent in-swinging cross from the right flank, Rivera ghosted in at the far post to deliver a brilliant finish with the outside of his right foot to volley home. After the chances the Rowdies missed earlier in the half, they could have been made to pay for their profligacy. Instead, they picked up a crucial three points in the Eastern Conference standings.  

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