2017 Suncoast Invitational Photo Gallery

By on February 26, 2017


The Second Annual Suncoast Invitational closed out with a bang and a booming drum as three games were played Saturday afternoon and evening at Al Lang Stadium in Downtown St. Petersburg.

In the first match of the day kicking off right at 3pm, Toronto FC took on the Chicago Fire. Toronto was lead by U.S. Olympic team members, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore but was smoked by the Fire by a final of 4-1. Chicago dominated with Midfielder Juninho leading the way and Goaltender Jorge Rodrigo Bava stopping everthing that came his way except for a penalty kick in the 89th minute of the match by Toronto’s Tosaint Ricketts.

Chicago scored 3 goals in under 40 minutes in the first half with Michael de Leeuw, Juninho and Nemanja Nikolic scoring easily on Toronto’s goalkeeper Clint Irwin. Deleeuw concluded the scoring for the Fire in the second half at the 74th minute with top shelf right corner blast to make the score 4-0.

After the match, the young fans screamed Juninho’s name for autographs and he obliged by signing for every fan who requested it. The Fire along with the next victor of the day, the D.C.United, look like potential contenders for the 2017 MLS Cup.

The United also was dominant against the Philadelphia Union by scoring 3 goals in ten minutes starting at the 14 minute mark of the first half. Patrick Nyarko broke the deadlock in the 14th minute after he beat a defender in the box and slotted it past Union goalkeeper, Andre Blake.

Luciano Acosta then crossed one into the box with Jared Jeffrey finishing it off in the 21st minute and after signing a new deal with the United, Patrick Mullins ripped one into the back of the onion sack from 25 yards out. The score would remain 3-0 at the end of the first half.

Philadelphia’s rally would come up one goal short as Oguchi Onyewu scored in the 51st minute and Marcus Epps added another to make the final score 3-2 for D.C.United. The Union’s late push was led by Alejandro Bedoya, but he was ejected as he received a red card for blasting the ball into the crowd. Thankfully for a fan, Bedoya only grazed him with the shot.

The last match of the day was played by Tampa Bay’s own, the Rowdies, versus the Montreal Impact. The former West Ham and Chelsea player, Joe Cole led the way for the Rowdies as they picked up a 2-1 victory in front of a boisterous crowd which included the “Ralph’s Mob” once again banging on the huge bass drums and chanting songs throughout the match.

It was a slow start for both teams until Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell switched Forward Darwin Jones to the left side of the pitch. Every time Jones or Cole touched the ball after the switch, The Rowdies attacked at will. This combination will be something to look out for during the upcoming season for the Rowdies.

Cole got the Rowdies on the scoreboard as Deshorn Brown drew a foul just outside the 18-yard box, and the Rowdies took the free kick with Brown feeding Joe Cole wide of the 6-yard box. Coles shot was deflected past Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush.  Brown then smashed one off a rebound from Cole to give the Rowdies a 2-0 lead at the half. The Impact got one back off a penalty shot by Ignacio Piatti at the 71st minute and made a late push but Tampa’s defense was rock solid all night and very deserving of the win. The Rowdies beat one of MLS’ best teams and the Impact fielded the lineup that they will be kicking off their season next week against the San Jose Earthquake.

The Second Annual Suncoast Invitational was a big success not only for the Rowdies but also for the fans of soccer who were treated to top notch performances by some of the best players in the MLS and throughout the world.


Categories: Featured, Sports


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