In their first preseason game, the Rowdies looked pretty good, dominating possession and out shooting the University of Tampa Spartans 10-2. The first half clearly belonged to FC Tampa Bay. They had a number of chances, including shots from Mike Ambersley, Pascal Millien, and Aaron King but Spartan keeper David Niepal brought his A-game with some excellent saves. Despite being the superior side in the first half, the Rowdies weren’t able to put one in the net and keeper Daryl Sattler wasn’t really tested leading to a 0-0 tie at the half.
FC Tampa Bay made a number of substitutions at halftime but looked a bit sluggish at times. in the 66th minute University of Tampa’s Kemal Malcolm took a breathtaking free kick from around 28 yards to score the game’s first goal. The shot was a sure-footed blast that scorched into the top-right corner of the net giving the host team a 1-0 lead.
As soon as the Rowdies fell behind their pace seemed to pick up. Substitutes Mozzi Gyorio and Chad Burt had excellent games, with Gyorio getting a number of shots on goal, some as direct results of Burt’s feeds. The Game-tying goal came in the 81st minute from Haitian native and University of Tampa product Pascal Millien. After receiving a pass from Burt on the left side of the goal he nimbly dribbled around two defenders and slotted it in the bottom corner of the goal, tying the game.
Despite some more solid efforts from the club, there would be no more scoring for the Rowdies as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
After the game Millien said it felt good to be back after a long off-season. He was disappointed with last year’s result and he says he wants to “have more impact on offense” this season. He also praised new Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill.
The Rowdies will next travel to South Florida to take on Swedish first division club BK Häcken on Saturday March 12th. That game starts at 3:30.