Hartford Athletic entered Saturday’s contest seeking a better outcome than the last meeting between the two sides, a 1-1 draw on March 26 that Hartford led for the majority of the game. The Boys in Blue put together a terrific display, but it was not enough to overcome two late-game penalty kicks.
Both teams came into Trinity health Stadium riding high. Tampa Bay was looking to extend their unbeaten streak to nine games while Hartford was playing arguably their best soccer all season throughout the past few weeks, earning points four out of their last five times on the field. Athletic came out of the gates firing, looking to give their packed crowd something to cheer about. They controlled play early, possessing the ball 54% of the time throughout the first 10 minutes. They fired off the first shot of the game in just the fourth minute when McGlynn took a free kick from outside the box and sailed it over the woodwork.
Tampa Bay fought back, entering the final third multiple times in the early stages of the game, but could not muster up their first shot until the 25th minute. The Rowdies snatched the ball away in the corner of their attacking third and after some quick touches, the ball ended up on the foot of Dos Santos right in front of Hartford’s net. He sent a shot that threatened to break open the scoring, but a diving Yannik Oettl swooped in to save a goal.
After their first scoring chance, the Rowdies kept their foot on the gas and earned the game’s first tally in the 36th minute. They swiped the ball in the attacking third off a Hartford throw-in and after a tic-tac-toe passing display, Hilton served Dalgaard at the top of the box. Dalgaard delivered a highlight-reel goal, sending a laser off the bottom of the crossbar and into the back of the net to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead that would hold until the half.
The Rowdies were unbeaten in the last 68 matches in which they scored first; Hartford left the locker-room hoping to end that streak.
Tampa started the second half on the front foot, holding the ball for over 80% of the first few minutes, but the momentum would soon shift in spectacular fashion. In the 49th minute, Ariel Martinez intercepted a pass from the Rowdies keeper and dished it off to Danny Barrera just above the box who netted the equalizer. The Rowdies tried to roar right back, streaking into Hartford’s 18 in the 52nd minute, but Athletic’s backline was able to thwart the scoring opportunity before a shot could be fired off.
The Green and Blue continued to push the pace offensively. In the 56th minute, Barrera lofted a pass over Tampa’s backline. Rashawn Dally sprinted past the defense and onto the ball, finding himself alone with the keeper. He did not let the opportunity go to waste, beating a flailing Rowdies’ goalie to give Hartford a 2-1 lead. Entering tonight’s contest, Barrera led Hartford with 26 chances created, but had yet to see his name in neither the goal nor assist column. The captain’s luck changed tonight, tallying both in Athletic’s scoring flurry.
The Rowdies were handed three yellow cards in the ten minutes following Athletic’s second goal. Hartford seemed to have seized control, but Tampa Bay’s prayers were soon answered. In the 73rd minute, Dos Santos was taken down in the box and earned a penalty kick, giving his team an opportunity to tie the game at two apiece. Fernandes was chosen to take the shot and he sent the equalizer to the back corner of the net.
Both teams had multiple chances to grab the lead as the clock slowly wound down, but defense reigned supreme until stoppage time. In the seventh minute of a three minute stoppage time period, Joel Johnson stepped up in the box to defend and was called for a foul. The controversial call set up an opportunity for Tampa Bay to overcome a disastrous start to the second half and earn three points. Fernandes came through in the clutch, netting his second penalty kick goal and capping off a miraculous Rowdies’ win.
Hartford will go back on the road in a weeks’ time to face the Charleston Battery on July 16, 7:30 PM at MUSC Health Stadium.
Shots (On-Target): Hartford 10 (3) – Tampa Bay 12 (5)
Corners: Hartford 4 – Tampa Bay 4
Fouls: Hartford 10 – Tampa Bay 11
Offsides: Hartford 3 – Tampa Bay 2
Possession: Hartford 53.3% – Tampa Bay 46.7%
Passing Accuracy: Hartford 87.6% – Tampa Bay 85.6%
Saves: Hartford 2 – Tampa Bay 1
36’ – Dalgaard (Hilton)
49’ – Barrera (Martínez)
56’ – Dally (Barrera)
73’ – Fernandes (PK)
90+8’ – Fernandes (PK)
32’ – Gdula (Yellow)
61’ – Vancaeyezeele (Yellow)
62’ – Wyke (Yellow)
64’ – Dos Santos (Yellow)
90+2’ – Scarlett (Red)
90+6’ – Oettl (Yellow)
HARTFORD ATHLETIC STARTING LINEUP:
13 (GK) Yannik Oettl, 2 (DF) Younes Boudadi, 3 (DF) Logan Gdula (A. Martínez, 46’); 4 (DF) Tulu, 5 (DF) Tom Brewitt, 9 (FW) Juan Carlos Obregón Jr (P. Saydee, 46’) 10 (MF) Danny Barrera, 11 (MF) Luka Prpa (A. Apollon, 80’) 18 (FW) Rashawn Dally (C. Hertzog, 77’); 28 (MF) Conor McGlynn, 30 (MF) Joel Johnson
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES STARTING LINEUP:
1 (GK) Carl Cochran, 3 (DF) Thomas Vancaeyezeele, 4 (MF) Lewis Hilton, 5 (DF) Jordan Scarlett, 7 (MF) Yann Ekra (J. Areman, 74’); 10 (FW) Steevan Dos Santos (L. Mkosana, 74’); 11 (MF) Leo Fernandes, 19 (FW) Jake LaCava (D. Harris, 63’); 23 (MF) Sebastian Asmussen (S. Guenzatti, 74’); 27 (MF) Laurence Wyke, 33 (DF) Aaron Guillen