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Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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Loss ends Rowdies' hopes of U.S. Open Cup

PORTLAND, Ore.—The Tampa Bay Rowdies' U.S. Open Cup journey ended Wednesday night with a 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers.

Two weeks after upsetting one of Major League Soccer's two Pacific Northwest powerhouses with a 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC, the Rowdies failed to knock out the other.

Playing far away from home, and with a makeshift defense, Tampa Bay gave up a quick goal that it would never make up. Portland added another goal early in the second half to beat the Rowdies and advance to the tournament's quarterfinals.

“Portland are a very good side and a class outfit,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “I felt throughout the game we kept competing, which was the main thing. … All in all, Portland were fair winners on the night and deservedly so. We have no regrets in terms of how we approached it, we're just disappointed that we couldn't keep their first goal from going in so early to give the players more confidence.”

Georgi Hristov had an early chance to put Tampa Bay ahead, as a Raphael Cox cross found him on the back post, but a slight deflection from a Timbers defender meant Hristov wasn't ready for the ball when it arrived.

The Rowdies were without regular starting defenders Dan Scott and Takuya Yamada and Portland took advantage early in the ninth minute on a screaming volley by midfielder Michael Nanchoff from the edge of the box.

“The first attack of real purpose that Portland had, they scored a goal,” Hill said.

Down 1-0, the Rowdies started to settle into the match and played well for the rest of the half, trading possession with the Timbers, but not creating much offensively. The Timbers outshot the Rowdies 5-1 in the half, but, apart from the goal, didn't have any serious shoring chances.

The Rowdies had another sluggish start to the second half, with Portland's Jack Jewsbury doubling the deficit just 10 minutes into the second half.

Tampa Bay pushed for goals late and nearly scored in the 79th minute on a free kick taken by Luke Mulholland.

Mulholland beat the Timbers' defensive wall and goalkeeper, but his shot ricocheted off the crossbar and out of play.

“I thought it was in,” Mulholland said. “I had the keeper beat but luck wasn't on our side tonight. If that goes in, it would have been an interesting last 10 minutes.”

Of the four non-MLS teams participating in the fourth round of the Open Cup, two won and reached the quarterfinals — the NASL's Carolina RailHawks, which beat Chivas USA 3-1 at home, and Orlando City Soccer Club from USL PRO, which upset defending champion Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on the road.

The Rowdies now return home to resume league play against the San Antonio Scorpions on Saturday at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg.