ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Stefano Bonomo scored twice, including the game-winner in extrattime to boost the seventh-seeded Red Bulls II to a 2-1 win over No. 3 Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the USL Cup playoffs at Al Lang Stadium Saturday night.
NYRBII goalkeeper Evan Louro also played an outstanding game.
The Rowdies almost took the lead in the opening minute of extra time as a cross by Michael Nanchoff was redirected on goal by New York defender Hassan Ndam, but Louro scrambled to keep it out of the net.
Moments later the visitgors took the lead as Bonomo tallied his second goal. Florian Valot sent a right-wing cross to deliver to the top of the six-yard area as Bonomo’s first-time finish turned the chance home.
Tampa Bay nearly found an equalizer early in the second period as Red Bulls II’s Junior Flemmings cleared off the line from Martin Paterson and the former Northern Ireland international fired another shot just wide in the 110th minute.
Paterson again went close three minutes later with a turning shot, only for the effort to fly just wide of the left post.
Former Cosmos midfielder Sebastian Guenzatti also went close as he fired from 20 yards.
Louro again denied the Rowdies in the 120th minute with Paterson won on the doorstep as the goalkeeper to made a point-blank save.
Another ex-Cosmos, Hunter Gorskie, had the last chance in stoppage time for the Rowdies, hitting the right post from a tight angle.
Tampa Bay had taken the lead in the 26th minute as a half-cleared corner kick came to Zac Portillos, whose long shot deflected at the top of the penalty area and fell to Hristov, who slotted home into the left corner.
The hosts almost doubled their lead early in the second half when Gorskie’s header from a corner went off the crossbar.
Red Bulls II got a chance to level from the penalty spot when Flemmings was brought down by goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the penalty area. Bonomo converted to the left corner.
The Rowdies came close to scoring late in regulation, but Louro made a big save to deny Michael Nanchoff from eight yards and stopped Guenzatti moments later.
New York also went close in stoppage time, only for Pickens to make a huge save to keep out Ben Mines in stoppage time.