In a game with few clear-cut chances, it was always possible that a mistake was going to decide Thursday night's match between the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Rochester Rhinos.
The Rowdies just didn't expect the mistake to come from goalkeeper Daryl Sattler.
Sattler's scuffed goal kick in second-half stoppage time led to a goal for Isaac Kissi, and the Rhinos stole a 1-0 win at Steinbrenner Field.
With 90 minutes showing on the stadium clock, Sattler prepared to send his kick upfield. But the ball went straight to Andrew Hoxie 40 yards from goal. Rob Valentino tried to recover, and Sattler advanced to cut off Hoxie's angle, but Kissi looped round to Hoxie's left, received a simple pass and finished into the empty net, stunning the crowd of 3,882.
"It's devastating," Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish said. "(Sattler's) done well this season, he's been playing great and he actually had a good game. It was a little surprise; you don't expect it and it's tough for Daryl."
The Rhinos had been aggressive in pursuing a game-winner as the second half wore on, with Hoxie having a goal ruled out for offside in the 79th minute. The Rowdies then had a spell of late pressure as Jeremy Christie's shot from 15 yards was blocked over the crossbar. Christie also had a late header off a corner go just wide, the Rowdies' only chance at an equalizer.
"It's very tough," newly acquired Rowdies midfielder Jonny Steele said. "They're third place in the league and we had our chances to beat them."
The Rowdies (5-7-5) had been the better side for most of the first half, in fact, with Steele showing some good touches and an eye for goal, firing just over the crossbar with a left-footed shot from 25 yards in the seventh minute.
Rochester (8-4-6) closed the first half well, though, and carried momentum into the start of the second half. But once the Rowdies found their passing rhythm they were able to create chances, with Long Tan twice going close with shots from the edge of the penalty area. JJ Adjeman-Pamboe also went close, but couldn't capitalize on Valentino's near-post flick from Takuya Yamada's long throw in the 68th minute.
"We definitely felt like we would get one with the way we were pressing," Adjeman-Pamboe said. "We were taking shots and being creative but it just didn't fall for us today."
Now with their winless streak at eight, and their playoff position being held only through a superior goal difference to Puerto Rico, the Rowdies need to find a way to make things fall their way Sunday when they host Miami.
"You've got to be positive," Dalglish said. "We've got to find solutions, not excuses. That's what winners do and that's what we've got to do."