Ghanaian midfielder Evans Frimpong played full throttle for Tampa Bay Rowdies in their 3-2 defeat at Orlando City in the first leg of the 1-4 Derby on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old was instrumental in the heart of midfield but could not help his side as they succumbed to defeat at the Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
The former Liberty Professionals youth captain has been a revelation since he joined Rowdies last season as he continues to churn out impressive displays week-in-week-out.
Forward Amani Walker put the Rowdies ahead in the 18th minute after he intercepted a sloppy pass from the Lions defense. T
he newcomer picked up his first goal since coming to the Rowdies, slipping the ball past Orlando’s goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo.
Orlando would come from behind to defeat the Rowdies with three goals in the second half. The first goal came in the 49th minute after Tampa Bay was unable to clear out a corner kick, which forward Jamie Watson capitalized to equalize the match. In the 58th minute, the Lions scored the go-ahead goal with a strike by midfielder James O’Conner from outside the 18-yard box.
Orlando’s third goal came in the 70th minute, as midfielder Jean Alexandre chipped the ball over Rowdies goalkeeper Andrew Fontein for the 3-1 lead.
Tampa Bay was able to slice the lead in half in the 75th minute after a great free kick by midfieler Luke Mulholland. The Rowdies midfielder slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, scoring the final goal of the match.
If the Rowdies win by one goal in the second leg, the series will be decided by penalty kicks. If Tampa Bay wins by two goals or more, the Rowdies will be the champions of the 2013 I-4 Derby Presented by United World Soccer.
If the Rowdies draw or lose the second leg, Orlando will be crowned the 2013 champions.
The Rowdies and the Lions will battle it out in the second leg of the I-4 Derby Presented by United World Soccer on Saturday, March 30 at Al Lang Stadium.