Photo: Tampa Bay Rowdies
After an hour-long lightning delay, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Jacksonville United FC kicked off in what was sure to be an exciting Floridian affair in the Second Round of the 2012 US Open Cup. However, the Rowdies made sure not to give Jacksonville the opportunity to pull off an upset, scoring early and often. Tampa Bay finished out winning the match 3-0.
The newly-rechristened Rowdies kicked off the match with a very early goal, as Mike Ambersley scored off a pass from Dan Antoniuk to give Tampa Bay the lead in just the second minute.
“It was a fantastic start with the early goal. After some nice work with Dizzy (Daniel Antoniuk),” said Tampa Bay manager Ricky Hill. “Mike Ambersley tucked it away expertly in the bottom corner. Like I have said before, these games are not easy. Everyone expects you to win but you have to earn the right to win. We were happy to get that first goal.”
Even after that first goal, the Rowdies did not let up. A shot by Matt Clare in the 13th minute sailed wide, while Stuart Campbell’s attempt in the 16th minute went over the crossbar. Their efforts would pay off again, though, in the 19th minute. Ambersley attempted a hard shot, which was saved by Jacksonville goalkeeper Stuart McCrory. He couldn’t hold onto it, though, and Antoniuk was in the right place, putting home the rebound to give the Rowdies the 2-0 lead.
“We had struggled with our consistency after the first goal. But it was a hard shot by Mike that the keeper could only deflect, and Daniel was there to put in the rebound,” said Hill.
Jacksonville United would see its best chance of the match in the 51st minute, as midfielder Tyler Williams hit the post. The Rowdies would get more chances to build on their lead in the second half, starting with a shot by Shane Hill in the 55th minute. The attempt was saved by McCrory, who pushed it out for an ultimately unsuccessful corner kick.
Tampa Bay wouldn’t quit, though, as substitute Keith Savage (who came in for Antoniuk just six minutes earlier) scored off an assist from Luke Mulholland to put the Rowdies up 3-0 in the 65th minute. Even with that comforting lead, it just wasn’t enough, as the Rowdies kept pressing for more. Hill, Mulholland, and Takuya Yamada all made attempts on frame that were directed wide.
With the win, the Rowdies move on to the Third Round of the US Open Cup, where they will host the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer on Tuesday, May 29, at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“We are delighted that we managed to come out with the victory tonight. All of the players and our fans will be excited to welcome Colorado to our home pitch next Tuesday,” Hill said after the game. “It will be a great occasion to test our skills and see where our level is compared to Major League Soccer. Our players are capable of playing with anyone at any given time, and that was proven last July in our victory over English Premier League side Bolton. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Tampa Bay Rowdies 3:0 Jacksonville United FC
Patton Park, Jacksonville, FL
Tampa Bay Rowdies: Mike Ambersley – 2nd minute (assisted by Daniel Antoniuk)
Tampa Bay Rowdies: Daniel Antoniuk – 19th minute
Tampa Bay Rowdies: Keith Savage – 65th minute (assisted by Luke Mulholland)
Jacksonville United: Hollis Donaldson – 51st minute
Tampa Bay Rowdies
GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango, D Draymond Washington, D Takuya Yamada, M Stuart Campbell, M Shane Hill, M Luke Mulholland (Dan O’Brien 77′), F Mike Ambersley, F Daniel Antoniuk (Keith Savage 59′), F Matt Clare (Fafa Picault 58′)
GK Stuart McCrory, D Adam Allee, D Hollis Donaldson, D Mats Elmsater, D Jacobi Goodfellow, M Stefan Durr (Darko Karamatic 59′), M Jonathan Glenn (Ramak Safi 67′), M Enrique Haussler, M Jay Nelson, M Tyler Williams, F Tornislav Krizanovic