Strikers Eliminated From Soccer Bowl; Rowdies Claim Fourth Consecutive Coastal Cup with 2-1 Win

ezthumbThe Fort Lauderdale Strikers (4-2-5, 14 pts) were knocked out of contention of a place in the 2013 Soccer Bowl  after a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-5-2, 17 pts) at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg on Saturday night. Luke Mulholland buried the deciding goal on a PK in the 76’ to give the home team the 2-1 lead. The penalty shot was given when Pecka brought down Tampa Bay’s Keith Savage inside the box.

Much like last week, the Strikers controlled possession for most of the first half, but this week, both teams were able to score before the half-time whistle.

The home team opened up the scoring in the 14th minute with a goal by forward Lucky Mkosana, who scored his second goal of the season. After making a fantastic run behind the Strikers defense, he picked up a pass from forward Etienne Barbara and pushed it into the net past goalkeeper Richard Sanchez.

“Etienne did a great job in seeing me make the run,” commented Mkosana. “I took my chance in going around the keeper, in order to have an empty net finish. Luckily I was successful and put it in the back of the net.”

Martin Nuñez got the equalizer in the 38th minute off a counter attack when Yaikel Perez received a long pass and took it into the box and then crossed it to Nuñez who put it in the back of the net for his team-leading, fourth goal of the season.

“When the Strikers scored, we felt something like ‘Oh no, not again’,” explained Mulholland. “Credit to the team for pulling it together and seeing it through in the second half.”

The Rowdies came out more aggressive in the second half, but it took the penalty kick for them to find the back of the net. Mkosana gave the Strikers a tough time with his speed, creating several chances for the Rowdies, but the backfield of Rafael Alves and Stefan Antonijevic put up a tough defensive stand.

The Strikers were also able to create several chances throughout the match, but were unable to capitalize on those opportunities.

“We knew that the Rowdies would come with pressure in the second half, but there was no way in my opinion we could lose after coming back before halftime,” said Strikers head coach Günter Kronsteiner. “We had chances to win the game.”

The New York Cosmos, who led the standings by seven points coming into tonight, were able to win at home against the Carolina Railhawks, giving them a 10 point lead over the Strikers with just three games left in the season.

With the 2-1 win, the Rowdies won their fourth consecutive Coastal Cup. Tampa Bay did however clinch the cup at home for the first time in four years.

Pedro Heizer

The founder, editor and publisher of 90 Minutes Stong, Pedro is credentialed member of U.S. Soccer, Orlando City Soccer Club, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and others, as well as a member of the North American Soccer Reporters.

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