Misc Soccer News

Rowdies Advance Past Birmingham in Open Cup Thriller

Rowdies Ink Forward Felix Schröter

May 9, 2024 – United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Tampa Bay Rowdies News Release

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – The Tampa Bay Rowdies survived a ten-goal thriller in the Round of 32 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night at Al Lang Stadium, prevailing 6-4 over Birmingham Legion FC after extra time. Tampa Bay will now host FC Dallas in the Round of 16, with the date and kickoff time for that match set to be confirmed on Thursday afternoon.

“It was an entertaining game, a stressful game at the end for sure, but we managed to get over the line and we’re now on to the next round of the cup, which is the important thing,” said Rowdies Head Coach Robbie Neilson. “We’ve now got an MLS team to play, which will be a great night for everyone here at Al Lang.”

It was smooth sailing for the Rowdies through the first half and most of the night. In the 79th minute, forward Cal Jennings was subbed off the field after completing a hat trick and increasing Tampa Bay’s lead to 4-0. But Birmingham did not go down lightly. The visitors scored in the 82nd minute, 89th minute, the third minute of stoppage, and then finally converted from the penalty spot in the sixth minute of stoppage time to send the match into extra time.

“I was getting in some dangerous spots, and maybe I could’ve come away with even some more,” said Jennings. “I think for 70 minutes, 75 minutes of that game we really were creating a lot of chances. We just, you know, kind of took our foot off the pedal.”

Damian Rivera opened the scoring for the Rowdies in the 25th minute. Receiving a ball from Blake Bodily on the left flank, Rivera slipped into the box and shook off a defender before firing a shot past keeper Fernando Delgado. Rivera was also involved in Tampa Bay’s second tally in the 34th minute. The young Rowdies attacker lunged out as Delgado was attempting a clearance at the top of the box, getting just enough of the ball to redirect it to an unmarked Jennings to finish.

Jennings nabbed his second deep into first half added time. A nifty passing combination of the left wing freed Bodily for a run down the field and he made the most of it with a cross right on the mark for Jennings to head home. Jennings notched his third of the evening in the 79th minute, benefiting from a slick back heel pass from teammate Danny Crisostomo to spring him into the box.

Birmingham’s rally started only three minutes later through a strike from Enzo Martinez. Kobe Hernandez-Foster then cut the lead to two…

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