ST. PETERSBURG, FL — In the second game of our Florida Cup double-header at Al Lang Stadium, the Tampa Rowdies played host to German club VfL Wolfsburg. As the temperatures began to drop along with the sun, the Bundesliga side had no problem pulling out of the contest with all three points and a 2-0 victory.
It was 23-year-old Robert Herrmann that provided Wolfsburg with both of the goals, helping his club to a win in its Florida Cup debut.
Alex Morell put up an early shot for the Rowdies, sending a rip tailing off wide of the goal in the fourth minute. But the excitement of the small but rambunctious crowd was quickly knocked down with Herrmann’s first goal of the evening, a beautifully taken free kick bent in from about 25 yards out in the sixth minute. Herrman’s effort beat the Rowdies’ trialist goalkeeper, Kyle Morton.
Things calmed down for the next 35 minutes or so, while both teams battled back and forth, right up until Herrmann doubled the lead with a strike from the middle of the penalty box off a nice service from the wing, making it a 2-0 game in the 41st.
But Tampa Bay quickly responded with a close chance on the other end. Hardly a minute later, Keith Savage beat the Wolfsburg goalkeeper with a shot, but it slowed down enough for a defender to rush in and clear it right in front of the goal line.
The Rowdies came out firing in the second half, breaking down the Wolfsburg defense with a flurry of chances, but couldn’t find the final piece of the puzzle, as the Germans would go on the claim the match.
With the win, Wolfsburg gained three points in the FC Challenge standings, while the Rowdies now sit at the bottom of the table through one game, trailing both Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Estudiantes.
Germany leads the FC Challenge competition with a win and a penalty shootout win on the tournament’s first day. The combined United States/Argentina bracket managed only a regulation draw — and the subsequent shootout loss — and a regulation loss.
The tournament resumes Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at ESPN Wide World of Sports on the Disney World campus in Orlando, as Bayer Leverkusen meets Brazilian side Atlético Mineiro. Wolfsburg will face Esporte Clube Bahia Thursday at ESPN Wide World of Sports at 7 p.m.