2017 US Open Cup Round 2: Tampa Bay Rowdies cruise to 3-0 win over shorthanded Jacksonville Armada U-23s

Posted by | May 16, 2017
Jacksonville Armada U23sJacksonville Armada U23s  
0 : 3
Tampa Bay Rowdies    Tampa Bay Rowdies
 Al Lang Stadium – St. Petersburg, FL 

Tampa Bay Rowdies logoThe Second Round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup started in St. Petersburg with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL hosting the Jacksonville Armada U-23s from the NPSL.

With the Rowdies having a quick turnaround from last Saturday’s league win over Louisville City and looking ahead to a trip to Toronto for another league match this Friday night, squad rotation was the order of the day, as manager Stuart Campbell made nine changes to his last starting XI. Regulars such as Joe Cole, Marcel Schäfer, Martin Vingaard and Matt Pickens either were not named to the matchday 18 or began the night on the bench.

Regardless, Tampa Bay coasted to a 3-0 victory and will now await the result of tomorrow night’s match between Miami FC of the NASL and the South Florida Surf of the PDL. Should Miami win, the Rowdies will travel south for a Round 3 match with their former league foe, however, they would host the next round if the Surf can pull off a “cupset”.

The Rowdies matched their club record for most goals in a US Open Cup game with three. The last time they scored three goals in a game was when they faced this same Armada U23s team (then known as Jacksonville United) in the Second Round of the 2012 tournament. Tampa Bay also won that match 3-0.

Kyle Porter opened the scoring for the home side in the 4th minute, when he spotted the goalkeeper off his line and took a shot from the right sideline, about 40 yards from goal, which was slapped down by Armada GK Juan Fajardo and ruled to have crossed the line by assistant referee Janessa Gunn. For the next 40 minutes, the Rowdies controlled possession and created several chances but tallied no further goals until the 43rd minute when midfielder Alex Morrell took the ball off an Armada defender at the edge of the box, then chipped a shot from the left side that went between the GK and another defender before settling in the right side of the goal.

Describing his goal, Morrell said, “Luckily, the guy had a bad pass and I picked it off – I made the most out of it and scored on my old keeper from college.” (Morrell & Fajardo were college teammates at the University of North Florida.)

The Rowdies made one change at the half with Darwin Jones replacing Georgi Hristov in the 46th minute. He took up his customary spot on the wing as Leo Fernandes moved inside to play as a 10 and from the wing position Jones provided the cross that Martin Paterson finished for Tampa Bay’s third and final goal. Before that sequence of events however, there were some fireworks as Armada defender Dener Dos Santos received a straight red for a clenched fist strike to the face of Morrell, to the dismay of Jacksonville’s captain, who earned a yellow for dissent.

“When you’re not playing games, it’s hard to keep fitness,” Paterson said. “Not motivation, because I love football, but it’s hard to keep your fitness and your sharpness. I’ve trained hard and today was an opportunity to get out there and get going again.”

Content with the lead, the Rowdies played out the remainder of the game with ease. Jacksonville managed their two best chances of the night in the 72nd and 74th minutes but still failed to register a shot on target for the match.

“I thought it was a really, really professional performance by the team, we went out and got the job done, which was to win the game and get into the next round,” said Campbell. “As a player, I’ve always enjoyed cup competitions in England, it’s a totally different feeling than playing in league games.”

Jacksonville Armada U23s Tampa Bay Rowdies
GOALS 3' · Kyle Porter 
43' · Alex Morrell 
69' · Martin Paterson 
Jacksonville Armada U23s
Tampa Bay Rowdies