CARY, N.C. — The Rowdies’ late summer slump continued as they fell 4-2 to North Carolina FC on Wednesday night.
The Rowdies, who lost just once in their first 20 games, have lost three of their past four. Tampa Bay (13-4-7, 46 points) fell to third place in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference. North Carolina (13-5-7, 46 points) jumped to second.
“Recently there have been two or three things that have crept into our game that have cost us, but (there’s) no panic,” Rowdies coach Neill Collins said. “No panic at all. We know we’re doing a lot of good things, and we’ll get some people back fit, and we’ll be ready to go strong between now and the end of the season.”
The Rowdies were under heavy pressure for the first 10 minutes and ultimately gave up a goal to North Carolina’s Dre Fortune in the 19th minute after a sluggish start.
Sebastian Guenzatti tied the score in the 32nd minute as the Rowdies rallied. But North Carolina took the lead for good five minutes into the second half on a goal by Steven Miller.
The Rowdies kept it close until the 76th minute, when North Carolina’s Manny Perez made a great solo run down the right wing before playing the ball across the face of goal. Rowdies centerback Pape Diakite turned the ball into his own net for an own goal to put Tampa Bay down 3-1.
Miller scored his second goal of the night three minutes later to make it 4-1 in the 79th minute. Juan Tejada scored a late goal for the Rowdies, his eighth of the season, in the 90th minute.
The Rowdies return to St. Petersburg to host Memphis 901 on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium to open a two-game homestand.