ST. PETERSBURG — With Saturday's game against Charleston tied at 2 in the final minutes, Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell decided to play for a win. He subbed in forwards and told his team to push up for a goal.
The strategy backfired.
Tampa Bay gave up a goal in the 89th minute and lost to the Battery 3-2 in front of 5,016 at Al Lang Stadium. After starting their first United Soccer League season on a three-game win streak, the Rowdies (3-2-1) have finished their third game in seven days with two losses and a tie.
"I took a gamble and used every attack option I had," Campbell said. "I put three strikers on and went for it in hopes of getting three (points). It didn't happen. Disappointing."
"We play for three points every game," Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov said. "We don't play for a tie. I would do the same thing again."
With the score 2-2 in the 89th minute, an attempted clearance in the box by Tampa Bay defender Luke Boden went to the foot of Charleston's Tah Brian Anunga. He was able to take a shot from 7 yards out past keeper Matt Pickens for the eventual winner for Charleston (4-0-1).
The Rowdies controlled play for much of the first half and finally got rewarded in the 34th minute. Hristov ripped a shot just outside the 18-yard box that deflected off Battery keeper Odisnel Cooper. Joe Cole knocked in the rebound from 5 yards and Tampa Bay was up 1-0.
That lead lasted six minutes. Justin Portillo took a free kick and sent a ball curling toward the upper-right corner. Forrest Lasso's header direct the ball past a diving Pickens to make it 1-1. That was Tampa Bay's first goal allowed at home, a span of 310 minutes.
In extra time of the first half, Charleston's Maikel Chang blasted a low left-footer from 25 years out that beat a diving Pickens. The Battery led 2-1 at halftime. The Rowdies tied the score in the 62nd minute when Hristov took a one-time shot off a cross in the box.