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Gameday Report: September 18, Week 28

By JOHN ARLIA - john.arlia@uslsoccer.com, 09/18/18, 10:45PM EDT

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Tampa Bay earns three pivotal points with 2-1 win in Nashville


Sebastian Guenzatti in action against Nashville SC. | Photo courtesy John Wilkinson III / Nashville SC

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. The Tampa Bay Rowdies kept their USL Cup Playoffs hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over Nashville SC in the USL Game of the Week on Tuesday night at First Tennessee Park. Tampa Bay’s second straight win and third in four games brings the side within four points of eighth-place New York Red Bulls II for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining in the regular season.

2. The Rowdies overcame their season-long road woes and finally got some lucky bounces as they picked up a crucial three points in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Tampa Bay earned just its fourth win away from Al Lang Stadium this campaign to improve its road mark to 4-8-2 and did so against a fellow playoff contender in Nashville that was 8-2-2 at home this season and had conceded just five goals in 12 home matches entering Tuesday's contest.

3. Nashville SC missed an opportunity to take advantage of one of its games in hand and jump the New York Red Bulls II for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The side lost at home for just the third time this season, but will take some confidence into its weekend matchup with the Charleston Battery after outplaying the Rowdies for most of the game. Nashville plays four of its final six regular season matches at First Tennessee Park and will like its chances to pick up points in those matches as the club pushes for a playoff spot in its inaugural season.

GAME REPORTS

NASHVILLE SC (1), TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (2)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies kept their USL Cup Playoffs hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over Nashville SC in the USL Game of the Week on Tuesday night at First Tennessee Park. Nashville created its first chance of the evening just 45 seconds into the contest when Lebo Moloto delivered a cross from the right wing and found Tucker Hume in the box, but the striker headed over Daniel Vega’s crossbar. The Rowdies were presented a golden chance to snatch the lead five minutes later from the penalty spot when Georgi Hristov was brought down in the box by Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens, who made his 300th professional appearance against his former club. Hristov kept his nerve from the spot to give Tampa Bay the lead as he dispatched the penalty kick down the middle of the goal as Pickens dove to his left. Nashville leveled the contest in the 20th minute when Moloto got on the end of Kosuke Kimura’s cross and produced a tidy one-time finish for his second goal in as many games. Moloto turned provider nine minutes later as played Hume through on goal, but Vega got down low quickly to parry the shot to safety. Tampa Bay nearly took the lead six minutes before the break as Sebastián Guenzatti led a quick counterattacking move and picked out Kwadwo Poku at the back post but his shot was kept out by Pickens’ outstretched glove. Hume had a chance on the other end four minutes later as he worked his way onto a hopeful cross and tried to chip the goalkeeper but didn’t put enough power on it as Pape Abdoulaye Diakite came back to clear the attempt off the line. Vega came up with another big save in the 63rd minute to deny Moloto his second goal of the evening from a header in close and the Rowdies took advantage of Nashville’s missed opportunities six minutes later when NSC defender London Woodberry headed Junior Flemmings’ dangerous driven cross into his own net. Pickens kept NSC in the game with simple saves on Flemmings, Afrim Taku and Zachary Portillos in the final five minutes of play, but Vega stood tall on the other end on the final play of the game to deny Brandon Allen’s shot before Moloto fired the rebound over the crossbar.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Daniel Vega, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Vega made four saves on the night, including a key one on Brandon Allen in the game's final moments, as Tampa Bay claimed a vital three points for its playoff push.

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