ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies put in a positive display, but a first-half goal by United States Men’s National Team midfielder Paul Arriola gave Major League Soccer’s D.C. United a 1-0 victory first day of the Rowdies Suncoast Invitational at Al Lang Stadium.
“There was lots to be positive about,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “We’ve got to consider where we are in preseason and that some of those guys haven’t played much together yet. I don’t like losing and it’s something that we don’t want to do much of, but you have to put it in perspective, and you can be pleased about a lot of that performance.”
The two teams exchanged chances just past the half-hour mark in what proved the only two good chances of the first half. Tampa Bay almost took the lead in the 33rd minute when Sebastian Guenzatti hit the crossbar with a rocket from the top of the penalty area, but a minute later Arriola struck at the near post, flicking home a first-time finish after good work down the left by Luciano Acosta.
Former England international Wayne Rooney appeared to have doubled D.C.’s lead in the 39th minute with a solid header, but the goal was disallowed for offside following a review by the Video Assistant Referee.
Rooney twice went close in the second half as well, but new Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy denied both opportunities to keep Tampa Bay’s deficit at the single goal. The Rowdies came closes to finding an equalizer with six minutes to go off a good move down the right, but trialist Juan Tejada sent his header just wide of the left post. Despite the first loss of the preseason for his side, though, Collins was pleased with what he saw against a strong United lineup.
“That D.C. United team was probably the best MLS team I’ve seen at Al Lang in the last few years and I thought we gave them a really tough test,” said Collins.
MEMPHIS 901 FC 4, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS UNIVERSITY 1: Memphis 901 FC added another preseason win on Saturday as four different players found the net in their victory against Christian Brothers University at the Bucs’ Signaigo Field.
After a competitive first half, Memphis took the lead just before halftime as Cuban forward Heviel Cordovés sent home the first goal of the match off an assist by defender Triston Hodge.
901 FC pulled away in the second half as Junior Sandoval headed in a corner kick from Louis Bennett II to double its lead, and a few minutes later Morgan Hackworth joined in on the scoring action to make it 3-0. The Bucs pulled a oal back off a free kick but 901 FC restored its three-goal advantage when Justin Dhillon found the net late on. The win kept 901 FC perfect in the preseason ahead of a road exhibition Wednesday at Vanderbilt University against back-to-back USL Championship champion Louisville City FC.
LOUISVILLE CITY FC 3, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA 2: Louisville City FC rallied from a halftime deficit to take victory against the University of South Florida on Saturday morning in its final game at IMG Academy this preseason.
South Florida took the lead in the first half, but Louisville hit back through goals by Magnus Rasmussen, Paolo DelPiccolo and Luke Spencer in the second half to run out victors.