Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rowdies close in on playoff spot

ST. PETERSBURG — It went beyond physical to one of their key players getting injured and possibly out for the season due to the aggressiveness of the opponent's tackles.

The Rowdies' 2-2 draw at Bethlehem on Wednesday was the kind of game that would invoke easy recall of bad feelings, even if a rematch was not for another six months.

Conveniently enough, it will end up being just three days.

Tampa Bay plays the Steel tonight. And the Rowdies will have more than just the motivation of having lost midfielder Michael Nanchoff to a nasty ankle injury.

A win clinches a playoff spot, something Tampa Bay hasn't done in five years.

"That's what we're aiming for. We want to get that playoff spot," defender Darnell King said. "We know what this team (Bethlehem) is about now, and we're coming in to expect to win."

Bethlehem committed 20 fouls Wednesday, compared to 11 for Tampa Bay. The one that has Nanchoff officially "week-to-week" required an air cast to be applied on the field: Bethlehem's Cory Burke charged full speed into Nanchoff, whose legs buckled from the impact.

Burke, who received a yellow card, stayed in the game to score Bethlehem's first goal early in the second half. Tampa Bay went back on top as Hunter Gorskie, a defender acquired a month after the Rowdies lost standout Damian Lowe to a Norwegian team, continued his scoring prowess with a finish off Marcel Schafer's free kick.

Gorskie had also scored in his home debut last Saturday, and it stood up as the lone goal of a 1-0 win over Charlotte that has a top-two finish still possible for the Rowdies. He has three goals in four matches.

Bethlehem's Seku Conneh scored the tying goal late giving both teams one point.

The inability to hold on for the three points in Pennsylvania means the Rowdies can pretty much forget catching first-place Louisville (55 points), even though it was upset by Toronto 1-0 Wednesday. Fourth-place Tampa Bay (12-7-9, 45 points) still has the No. 2 spot — and potential homefield through the USL's Eastern Conference semifinals — in its sights. The Rowdies have at least a game in hand on the other teams in front of them (Charlotte 48, Charleston 47).

Only fifth-place Rochester (43) could knock the Rowdies out of the top four and a first-round playoff game at home.

That will all get sorted out across the final four regular-season games. For now, Tampa Bay is happy with the chance to clinch a spot in the field, especially at home. More than 7,000 attended last week's victory at Al Lang Stadium.

"I've been here a long time, and to see that type of crowd for a regular-season game and generate that atmosphere, really was priceless to the players," Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said.

"And (tonight's) an even bigger game. I know for a fact the fans are going to be right up for it. It's a big opportunity to clinch a place in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. We're really looking forward to it."

Rowdies close in on playoff spot 09/29/17 [Last modified: Friday, September 29, 2017 10:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No. 20 UCF beats Navy 31-21 for first 6-0 start

    College

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Central Florida finally had been tested in a tight game, and someone wondered if coach Scott Frost enjoyed seeing how his team reacted to the situation.

    Freshman  Otis Anderson gives UCF plenty of reasons to celebrate after scoring the final touchdown of the game to clinch bowl eligibility for the Knights.
  2. No. 8 Miami survives Syracuse test, beats Orange 27-19

    College

    MIAMI GARDENS — By Miami's new standards, this game was decided early.

    Sophomore Travis Homer on Miami’s hot start: “We’re 6-0, but that’s not our final goal. That’s not going to get to our head.”
  3. Stroud: Bucs need to stop digging holes on road

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    HARVARD SQUARED: Tight end Cameron Brate catches a TD from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
  4. Topkin: A busy offseason for Rays approaching as postseason winds down

    The Heater

    Tuesday's opening of the World Series means the end of the postseason is in sight and that the offseason maneuvering, which starts five days after the final out, can soon evolve from talk to action.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi smiles at Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer after Mauer broke up Odorizzi's no-hit bid with a single during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
  5. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-Louisville

    College

    1. One of the many hard-to-believe stats about FSU's underperforming defense: DE Brian Burns led all freshmen nationally with 9 ½ sacks last year; his first one this season came midway through the second quarter Saturday.

    TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs the ball into the endzone for a touchdown during their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) 775042617