Rowdies lose lead late, tie with Timbers
TAMPA - After fighting back to take the lead and seemingly control of Saturday night's game, the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies found themselves bunched in front of their goal in the 81st minute, the ball bouncing off legs like a pinball. The next thing the Rowdies knew, Portland's Takayuki Suzuki zipped a shot past keeper Daryl Sattler, taking much sizzle out of the 4,417 fans at Steinbrenner Field. About 10 minutes later, Tampa walked off with a 2-2 tie and a serious case of mixed emotions. "While it's good to get that point (one for a tie in the standings), it's tough to let the (three points for a victory) get away," Rowdies forward Aaron King said. "I really thought we were going to put this one in the bag."Instead the Rowdies (6-7-6) continue to find themselves on the bubble for a playoff spot as time pushes into the last third of the USSF Division II season. Perhaps the most frustrating part for Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish was watching Portland's final goal slip in. "It seemed like we had chances to clear it," Dalglish said. "When you don't clear it at this level you get punished." Dalglish was pleased, however, with this team's goals: The first in the 27th minute on a nifty 20-yard chip shot by King over Portland goalkeeper Steve Cronin; the second in the 57th minute by newcomer Ricardo Sanchez on a 30-yard free kick into the net's right side. Sanchez, playing in his first game as a Rowdie after arriving in Tampa from Vancouver nine days ago, seemed as conflicted as any of his teammates with the outcome. "We have to take advantage when we are at home," Sanchez said. "It's too bad when you have a chance against a great team like Portland." Portland improved to 8-6-5 and put itself in a much stronger position to claim one of the eight playoff spots. The Rowdies, meanwhile, still have plenty of chances to seal a playoff spot for themselves. "We just need to clean some things up," Dalglish said. If nothing else, Tampa scored two goals for the second consecutive game. Before that, the Rowdies had struggled through a 314-minute scoreless streak. But as with its game against Miami on July 4, Tampa Bay let valuable home points slip away.