Hristov Sets Club Scoring Record in 3-1 Win Over Toronto FC II
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nico Castillo, Tampa Bay Rowdies
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 4, 2018) — The booms hit Al Lang Stadium a little early on Wednesday night, but not even a lightning delay could break the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ rhythm in a 3-1 win over Toronto FC II.
The match was suspended with the Rowdies up 2-1 in the 70th minute due to lightning in the vicinity, leading to a 59-minute delay in the match. Once things picked back up, the Rowdies tacked on a third goal to cruise to victory.
Georgi Hristov, Leon Taylor and Joe Cole had the goals for Tampa Bay (6-6-4, 22 points.)
“Without being disrespectful to Toronto because they’re a very young side with some really good players, but I think the score flattered them to be completely honest,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “I think on another night, we take our chances and we win handily. Goals change games, we gave up a goal and it made it a tense evening for us, especially with the rain delay.”
Hristov started the party in perfect fashion in just the eighth minute of play, receiving a long outlet pass from Rowdies goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald and lobbing it over Toronto (0-14-3, 3 points) goalkeeper Borja Angoitia from about 27 yards to put Tampa Bay ahead 1-0.
It was Hristov’s 58th goal for the Rowdies, surpassing Derek Smethurst’s long-standing Rowdies scoring record to become the clubs’ all-time leading scorer. Smethurst’s record of 57 goals had stood since 1978.
“It means a lot to me,” Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov said. “The Rowdies are such an old club with a lot of history, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the three points. Let’s not take away the effort that the guys put in tonight. We deserved the win, so I’m even more happy that we won the game.”
Taylor doubled the lead in the 54th minute with a close-range finish from Leo Fernandes’ cross to put Tampa Bay up 2-0. It was Taylor’s third goal in three appearances since signing with the Rowdies earlier this season.
Toronto got back into the match with a lucky break in the 58th minute when Luca Uccello’s free kick slipped through Fitzgerald’s fingers to make the score 2-1.
Despite giving up the goal, Tampa Bay was in cruise control until lightning nearby forced the players off the field in the 70th minute.
After a delay of just under one hour, the Rowdies took the field again without missing a beat.
Cole’s goal sealed things in the 79th minute, but the result was never really in doubt. The Rowdies recorded 16 shots on the night (six on target), compared to just one shot (zero on target) for Toronto.
Tampa Bay has a quick turnaround now before welcoming the defending USL Cup champions, Louisville City FC, to Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night in a marquee showdown. Tickets are available here or by calling (727) 222-2000.
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov - 8th minute (Assisted by Akira Fitzgerald)
Rowdies: Leon Taylor - 54th minute (Assisted by Leo Fernandes)
Toronto FC II: Luca Uccello - 58th minute
Rowdies: Joe Cole - 79th minute (Assisted by Dominic Oduro)
Rowdies: Leon Taylor - 27th minute
Toronto FC II: Rocco Romeo - 31st minute
Toronto FC II: Julian Dunn - 47th minute
Rowdies XI (4-3-3): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Hunter Gorskie, Tamika Mkandawire, Ivan Magalhães, Max Lachowecki; M Joe Cole (c), Dominic Oduro, Martin Vingaard; F Leo Fernandes (Sebastian Guenzatti 70'), Leon Taylor (Stefano Bonomo 57'), Georgi Hristov (Afrim Taku 84')
Toronto FC II (4-5-1): GK Borja Angoitia; D Kyle Bjornethun (c) (Tim Kubel 70'), Rocco Romeo, Julian Dunn, Dante Campbell; M Luca Uccello, Noble Ocello (Matt Srbely 58'), Gideon Waja, Jordan Faria (Aidan Daniels 66'), Malik Johnson; F Shaan Hundal