Playoffs slipping out of Rowdies' hands

click to enlarge Joe Cole can do more than just score. He gave a crunching tackle to an Indianapolis midfielder Wednesday night in the opening minutes of the match. - Colin O'Hara
Colin O'Hara
Joe Cole can do more than just score. He gave a crunching tackle to an Indianapolis midfielder Wednesday night in the opening minutes of the match.

The only debate I heard was about which goal from Joe Cole was better. But that didn't matter in the end. The Rowdies faced one of their most heartbreaking losses, leaving some of us asking the big questions like what? How? And WHY?

A win was everything Wednesday night. A win would have put the Rowdies in playoff position with their destiny in their own hands. A win would have put our nerves at ease. A win would have helped me sleep at night. But they served us a loss.

The Green and Gold went down 2-0 in the first half after some dismal play during the first 30 minutes. Head coach Stuart Campbell credits the loss with the way the Rowdies started the game.

“The first 30 minutes of the game wasn’t good enough,” Campbell said. “With what was at stake, we didn’t show enough aggression or enough tempo in our play until we were two-nil down, which is mind-blowing, really.”

click to enlarge Joe Cole found the back of the on four occasions Wednesday night, but only two counted on the score sheet. His second goal came from a long bomb from nearly 20 yards out, ripping the ball into the upper corner. That makes two "goal-of-the-year" nominees for Cole. - Colin O'Hara
Colin O'Hara
Joe Cole found the back of the on four occasions Wednesday night, but only two counted on the score sheet. His second goal came from a long bomb from nearly 20 yards out, ripping the ball into the upper corner. That makes two "goal-of-the-year" nominees for Cole.

Campbell wouldn’t say what he said in the locker room at half time, stating “what happened in the dressing room stays in there,” but it couldn’t have been nice. Campbell is normally on the soft-spoken side, but he said something that made a difference.

Midfielder Joe Cole came out on fire and led the Rowdies’ comeback with two goals scored in the second half. Overall, Cole had a four-goal frenzy on the night, but two were called back for offsides. No matter to him, he kept his team's spirits up with a goal that rivaled the famous bicycle kick heard 'round the world and can seriously only be described as “titillating.” Fans in the stands needed a cigarette and cuddle time after watching that spectacle.

Cole was not available after the match for comment or pillow talk. Presumably, he was too busy watching the replay of his goal on a loop.

For the second consecutive match in a row, the Rowdies clawed their way back from 2-0 down to tie it up, and could've finished the game on top. But that was Indy’s destiny.

“That start we had to the first half cost us the game tonight. … We knew what was at stake and we went out there as if we were the team that was set in the playoffs. It’s very, very frustrating," Campbell said.

Indianapolis broke the hearts of Tampa Bay supporters late in the game with a third goal to take the lead.

click to enlarge Palm Harbor native and USF alumni, Ben Sweat, holds back an opposing player during Wednesday night's loss to Indianapolis. - Colin O'Hara
Colin O'Hara
Palm Harbor native and USF alumni, Ben Sweat, holds back an opposing player during Wednesday night's loss to Indianapolis.

The Rowdies have only themselves to blame. Missed chances plagued the team in the second half, only adding to their frustration.

“It’s disappointing. We had numerous opportunities to go and grasp It,” Campbell said.

It’s grim, but it’s not over. The Rowdies have two games left this season and are three points behind the final playoff spot. Now is the time to not only win, but take up religion and pray for a few things to go our way. It’s out of our hands now.

 “We have to go and win two and rely on somebody to do us a favor along the way,” Campbell said. “The way this season has gone, nothing will surprise me.”

The only thing left to do is wait. The final home game of the season kicks off on Saturday. Campbell and the Rowdies are still aiming for that playoff spot, but just as important to the team are the fans, Stu wants to give us one more win at home.

“We have to finish off with a win for the supporters,” Campbell said. “They have been tremendous all season. They stuck by us.”

The good news: at least a loss was still more fulfilling than watching the presidential debate. 

About The Author

Colin O'Hara

Colin O'Hara, Intrepid Sports Reporter, writes about sports for Creative Loafing and is the only CL writer ever  banned from a certain Croatian stadium, which makes him sort of a bad-ass. Follow him as he Tweets smart-ass sports shit...
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