Photo courtesy Martin Bazyl / Toronto FC II
TORONTO – The Tampa Bay Rowdies claimed their first victory under new Head Coach Neill Collins as they took a 4-2 victory against Toronto FC II on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. The Rowdies threatened in the seventh minute as Junior Flemmings forced a good low save by TFC II goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell, while three minutes later Luca Uccello returned the favor for Toronto as his shot from the penalty spot was parried away by Tampa Bay goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald. The visitors took the lead in the 24th minute, however, as Flemmings put home a back-post finish off a cross from the left by Marcel Schäfer. It took just 80 seconds for the Rowdies to strike again as Patterson-Sewell was able to deny an initial shot by Leo Fernandes, but the follow-up from 25 yards by Michael Nanchoff picked out the bottom-left corner of the net. Toronto hit back five minutes into the second half when Dante Campbell bundled home a close-range finish off a cross by Luca Petrasso, and then leveled the game when Uccello turned the ball over in midfield after a Rowdies corner kick and broke forward alone on goal before setting up Malik Johnson for a simple finish. Tampa Bay almost regained the lead with 20 minutes to go when Joe Cole’s cross from the left was stabbed over the crossbar at the far post by Flemmings, but three minutes later Hunter Gorskie headed home a beautifully-delivered free kick by Schäfer to put the visitors back ahead. Flemmings then put the game out of doubt with two minutes to go on a breakaway finish to send the Rowdies back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference.
24’ – TBR – Junior Flemmings (Marcel Schäfer)
25’ – TBR – Michael Nanchoff
50’ – TOR – Dante Campbell (Luca Petrasso)
63’ – TOR – Malik Johnson (Luca Uccello)
73’ – TBR – Hunter Gorskie (Marcel Schäfer)
88’ – TBR – Junior Flemmings
Three Things That Matter:
1. With his side having been pegged back after holding a halftime lead, the Tampa Bay Rowdies got a moment of high quality from Marcel Schäfer to regain control of the game as the side claimed its first victory under new Head Coach Neill Collins. One of the leading set piece-takers in the league, the former German international showed again what he’s capable of with a beautiful free kick that resulted in Hunter Gorskie’s game-winning goal with 17 minutes to go. Schäfer has again been among the league’s leaders in chances created this season, and with another two assists on Saturday afternoon he lifted the Rowdies to a victory they desperately needed.
2. The Rowdies took control of the game in impressive fashion midway through the first half as goals 80 seconds apart by Junior Flemmings – his first for the club – and Michael Nanchoff gave the visitors a firm grip on the game. It almost made Tampa Bay a little too comfortable to start the second half as Toronto jumped on the lack of sharpness the Rowdies exhibited to get back level, with the hesitation by Zac Portillos that allowed Luca Uccello to dispossess him and break forward to set up Toronto’s second goal the sort of moment that could have been a backbreaker. The Rowdies did well to recover and claim their second road win this season but won’t be able to afford those types of letdowns against more experienced opposition.
3. Toronto had worked its way back into the game after a tremendous start to the second half, but once again were unable to follow through and produce the result it was looking for. Now winless in its first 11 games of the season, the talent that players like Luca Uccello and Malik Johnson possess is clear, but the side’s defensive issues that have now seen it concede 24 goals in 11 games are still too much to overcome.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Junior Flemmings, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Flemmings opened and closed the scoring for the Rowdies for his first two goals for the club as the side dug in to claim the win on the road.
Toronto FC II at Ottawa Fury FC – May 30, 7 p.m. ET, TD Place
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. ATL UTD 2 – June 2, 7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium