USSF D-2: A Look Back at Week 5

Rowdies

By TRAVIS CLARK

Professional soccer has returned to Tampa Bay. Saturday evening's home opener witness the rebirth of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and gave fans a taste of the USSF Division 2 League, as the home side drew 2-2 against the Austin Aztex.

A sold out crowd of 8,082 was on hand in what turned out to be an entertaining and back-and-forth encounter. The home side went up through Aaron King's 10th-minute penalty, before Austin hit back for two. Eddie Johnson converted a free kick in the 28th minute, and Austin took the lead and grabbed a man advantage when Tampa Bay defender Rob Valentino was sent off for handling the ball on his goal line.

Jamie Watson dispatched the ensuing penalty, and just when it look like Austin would play the spoiler role at Tampa Bay's home opener, Stanley Nyazamba won a penalty that World Cup-bound Jeremy Christie scored to earn the home side a point.

Here's a look at the rest of the weekend's USSF D-2 action:

BALTIMORE EARNS FIRST POINT IN VANCOUVER

Game two of Crystal Palace Baltimore's five-game road trip translated into the first points of the 2010 campaign for the cellar dwellers. Making the trip up to the Northwest in the first game of a two-game swing, Baltimore shut down Vancouver's struggling offense to draw 0-0. Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Marcus Haber couldn't break the deadlock as Palace 'keeper Evan Bush posted the club's first clean sheet of the season, and Baltimore's first point in the second division.

MONTREAL TRIUMPHS OVER MINNESOTA IN THE DYING MINUTES

NSC Minnesota came so close to putting a two-game losing streak to bed. Up 1-0 late against Montreal Impact, a second road win was there for the taking. A tight, defensive performance, combined with a timely goal by Brian Cvilikas had Minnesota in pole position. But a defensive collapse meant Minnesota's effort was all for nothing, as Rocco Placentino's brace — including the winner in the 94th minute — earned the Impact a 2-1 win.

ROCHESTER BEATS ST. LOUIS

On a cold and windy night in upstate New York, only 1,447 brave souls showed up at Marina Auto Stadium as Rochester looked to best A.C. St. Louis and the 50 mph wind gusts. Anthony Hamilton put the hosts in front with a tally late in the first half. St. Louis, winless on the road, got back into the game with the aid of the heavens, when Rhinos 'keeper Scott Vallow misjudged a Dillon Barna free kick from midfield that bounced over Vallow's head and into the net. Rochester managed to overcome the elements and St. Louis' defense, as Ryan Heins scored the game winner in the 74th minute.

MIAMI DRAWS FOURTH STRAIGHT

Miami's bid to end a streak of ties and earn a first win on the season, was once again denied in the later stages of the game. This time it was the Carolina Railhawks, who snatched an 83rd minute equalizer to come away with a point in a 1-1 draw. Both sides battled through a 0-0 first half, with each side unable find a breakthrough. Former Railhawk goalie Caleb Patterson-Sewell kept a clean sheet on his old club, and after Abe Thompson's goal early in the second half, a maiden win was in reach of the Blues. Unfortunately, Patterson-Sewell misplayed a late Carolina free kick that allowed Josh Gardner to save a point for the visitors.

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What did you think of this week's action? Who impressed you? Which players do you see drawing interest from MLS?

Share your thoughts below.

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21 Responses to USSF D-2: A Look Back at Week 5

  1. socmin says:

    Keep hanging on, Railhawks!

  2. socmin says:

    Also, thank you very much, SBI, for these reports.

  3. Ivan says:

    Rowdies game impressions (went at the game).

    Tampa is hungry for professional soccer; the crowd was very diverse, both in age and race…from old hardcore Rowdies fans to hundreds of yound people playing at the local soccer academies/clubs…I can see attendance holding steady at 4-5K every game, w/ a bump for the July 4th FC Miami game and the Puerto Rico Islanders game.

    Ralph’s Mob, the Rowdies’ supporters group is incredible! These guys keep singing and chanting and bring a fantastic atmosphere to every game (including pre-season friendlies).

    Yankees’ stadium is HORRIBLE as a soccer venue. The seating is messed up, and the Yankees apparently refused to cover the clay portion of the infield w/ grass…thus, 1/4 of the field was practically unplayable and both teams avoided that corner…the field was ridiculously small: both very short and narrow. Every time the ball got past midfield, there was a potential goal scoring chance for either team…

    The Rowdies need their own staidum. The fanbase is here, the quality of the team is here, we need a stadium!Plus, the style of play for the Rowdies (one striker, ball on the ground, keeping possession) will suffer big time at Yankees’ filed.

    Bottom line, there is something really good coming up in Tampa, Florida. Building a soccer-specific stadium in a year or two will make sure that professional soccer remains in Tampa for years to come.

    Go Rowdies!

  4. MD says:

    I think losing the thunder franchise(was turning 20 years old this year) has really hurt MN. I know we play in the same stadium, but we lost a core group of players and it looks like we’re going to be further, and further down. And the name the stars… gimme a break, I’d rather have us go back to the “kicks” from the NASL days then the stars(too many bad memories associated with Stars in MN if you catch my drift)

  5. Matt C in tampa says:

    I think pretty much on point Ivan. I was there too. Great atmosphere. Agree totally with the field configuration, but as far as amenties and location, i thought the stadium was great. Fairly central for the Tampa Bay area. The bars and Tampa tribune decks were great. Large beer only $6. Tailgating location was awesome as well.

    I will say this about the small and tight configuration. When the opposing keeper was defending the south goal, he was literally about 15 ft from the first row of fans. Had a blast giving “Miguel” a hard time.

  6. bigvic says:

    8k showed up for Tampa Bay? Wow. Thats like double the amount that show up for St. Louis games. And people are clamoring for a St. Louis MLS franchise. I think we’ve found the location of that sought-after Southeast city to expand to in order to complete the national map.

  7. ERic says:

    All based on one game.

    Yeesh.

  8. paul says:

    Haha, I’m a Rowdies fan, and I wouldn’t even go that far! Our next game is on a Thursday night, and I don’t want people saying it was a fluke when we only draw 3-4K for that game. The first game was quite an event. Plus, I like starting out with a D-2 team. Let another city get the MLS team, there’s no reason to rush things here. The product is great and the prices are reasonable. Plus, we have a World Cup player on our squad!

  9. Ivan says:

    A follow-up to my earlier post.

    I am very excited that the Rowdies have a player who will be playing in the World Cup, as defensive mid/fullback Jeremy Christie just made the New Zealand final 23 men roster. Good luck to Christie: he works very hard on the field and has done well for the Rowdies so far(with the exception of the occasional unnecessary slide tackle). Hopefully he will get some playing time in South Africa!

    I agree that the Rowdies must first establish itself as a leading division 2 side over the next several years. The invitation (if the owners can cough the franchise fee of $30mil. and build a soccer-specific stadium) will surely come over the next 5-10 years.

    Coach Dalglish has done really well so far. The team does have a good style of play, and I am positive that the Rowdies will make the cut for the playoffs in its first season in the second division. Millien on the wing, Yamada as a defensive mid(former Japanese international), Aaron King(despite missing a sitter early in the 2nd half on Saturday) Christie, and Nyazamba have all done very well in the early days. The team likes to keep the ball and control the tempo of the game (which is practically impossible on the horrible field at Yankee stadium)…defense has been solid. Diaz did very well as a central defended the other night…All in all, lots of positives and credit to the coach.

    Back to the stadium discussion, rumor has it that the owners are trying to secure land for a new stadium either in downtown Tampa, next to the University of Tampa, or by the Fairgrounds, where a new baseball stadium for the Rays and a new soccer-specific stadium have been projected (w/ investors already interested in the project)…only time will tell.

    Despite its central location, and the perfect place for tailgating, Yankees stadium wil hamper the teams’ style of play and its credivility as a viable professional team if they keep playing there for more than a year. Maybe if they cover the dirt portion of the field, I am willing to reconsider…at any rate, see you in 2 weeks at the next home game!

  10. Didier says:

    My first thought when seeing that attendance figure was: Forget Miami or Atlanta, Tampa Bay should get the first (er, third) southeast MLS franchise.

    Also, love their uniforms.

  11. bigvic says:

    thats the sort of thinking that motivates Garber. After all, he’s now clamoring for a 2nd NY team nevermind that the 2nd one in LA isnt working (and most likely affecting the 1st teams attendance). And what was NYRB’s latest attendance figures? He thinks its a success just to have 11 or 13k per game.

  12. bigvic says:

    no, we need MLS teams in all of those cities, plus birmingham and new orleans and san antonio too. Look, black, brown, yellow, white, whatever the skin color is, they’re not going to come out in great numbers to see folks who couldnt make it even in the 2nd division of nations who take soccer serious. Sign some big names, and a team would work anywhere, even in “soccer is a socialist sport” Wichita, Kansas.

  13. MattC in tampa says:

    Agreed, any talk of MLS in Tampa is really, really silly.

    success at the second level is all we’re asking for. check back in 6 years.

  14. vic says:

    the franchise fee is 45mil, no ifs and or buts about it. Saputo wanted 20mil, but Garber didnt back down from 40mil. The price goes up 5 mil for each subsequent year.

  15. Agreed, any talk of MLS in Tampa is really, really silly.

  16. yankiboy says:

    Bigvic: Brother, I’m not sure if you being serious or joking but we tried that in this country before.

    It was called the original NASL. I don’t know how old you are but I’m old enought to remember the last five or six years of it pretty well. The approach that you are recommending–It didn’t work. It overspent and over expanaded itself to death.

    True. Thirty years have passed but I don’t think that the end result would be much different if the same approach was taken today.

  17. yankiboy says:

    Props to Tampa Bay. Already saw you club when they came to Baltimore to play Palace.

    I do think that you are right. When Puerto Rico plays there you will get a little bump because most places in the States where Islanders play and where there are Puerto Ricans in the area means that there will be at least a little but vocal Islanders cheering section even if the people don’t normally care about soccer and can’t name any players on the squad.

    I was trying to get down for one there for one of the Rowdies-Islanders matches but unfortunately, it just isn’t going to work out with other things that I already have going on.

    I think that outside of the games with Miami FC, those are going to have some of the best atmosphere that you guys are going to see for your home games.

  18. yankiboy says:

    Yeah. I relly enoy them. I look for them every week.

  19. yankiboy says:

    Palace Baltimore with its first point. First road point. At a very difficult place to get a result against a club that is usually one of the best in the division. Congrats to the club. Maybe we can get some momentum going. Playing the Timbers at PGE is going to be new and exciting for the club. Never made it out there but that place has earned its rep as one of the most intense places to play in the second division.

  20. yankiboy says:

    Big Props to Puerto Rico Islanders for using an off week to win the Caribbean Club Championship and qualify again for the CONCACAF Champions’ League.

    Hardware. How sweet. Maybe we can get a temporary break from those calling for Colin Clarke to be fired. Seriously.

    With CCL play the road to the Second division chapionship will now be more difficult but hey, if you are afraid to stomp with the big dawgs then stay the heck on the porch.

    link to usl1.uslsoccer.com

  21. Isaac in Tampa says:

    Last I heard the plan is to build a stadium downtown near University of Tampa.