Rodrigo da Costa scores hat trick as Memphis 901 FC clinch playoff spot
Attacking fireworks were on full display between Memphis 901 FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Rodrigo da Costa and Cal Jennings were the pyrotechnics in the first half, each scoring a brace within 35 minutes of play.
The strikers would go back-and-forth, the action starting with Jennings using his speed on the counterattack to score. He would win another foot race for his second goal, capitalizing on a lovely JJ Williams touch. Rodrigo’s responding goals came from an attacking front looking to dispossess. The Brazilian was clinical in front of goal with a curling left-footed shot and a tap-in courtesy of yet another Aiden McFadden assist.
Pace calmed down after the break with the home side winning consecutive set pieces. With the majority of time spent in their own half, Memphis were reliant on a couple of important saves from Drew Romig to keep the score level. A mistake from the opposing goalkeeper, Connor Sparrow, abruptly changed momentum in 901’s favor — chasing a ball outside of the penalty box and colliding with da Costa in the process. The ball bounced directly into the path of substitute Sameul Careaga who scored easily.
Memphis was able to unlock their attack with a fairly constant press despite coming into the match on a short week. The energetic front line kept the Rowdies uncomfortable in their own half. Da Costa capped off the night by completing his hat trick in the 80th minute. Careaga drew in two defenders before laying it off to the open Rodrigo.
Memphis have swept the Rowdies in the regular season for the first time in club history, scoring seven goals in the process. The results have had big implications in the standings with Memphis keeping pace with Louisville for the 4th seed and the Rowdies losing ground on the top-seeded Riverhounds.
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