The Rowdies will host a first-round playoff game at Al Lang
The Tampa Bay Rowdies march to the USL Cup Playoffs in their first year in the league is off to a great start. Last night, in the regular season finale, Tampa Bay went on the road 90 miles away on Interstate 4 Tampa Bay and vanquished the Orlando City B squad 2-0 to clinch a first-round home game.
There could be more home games in the playoffs but that depends on a few things.
At present, the Rowdies are sitting in the second place in the USL Eastern Conference with a record of 14-11-7 (W-T-L), and 53 points. Tampa Bay’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal match will be played at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, September 21 with a 7:30 kickoff.
The Rowdies hold on the second spot depends on what happens Saturday night. Here is the way things could play out and we will know more when the dust settles Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay will finish second if the Charleston Battery fails to beat the Charlotte Independence in Charlotte, and Rochester fails to beat New York Red Bulls II by nine goals or more.
Meanwhile in Orlando last night it was the usual cast of heroes for the Rowdies as Georgi Hristov and Sebastian Guenzatti found the back of the net in the second half. The duo has found the scoresheet many times this season for Tampa Bay.
It was the regular season ender for both clubs but now the Rowdies can focus on the postseason.
“I thought it was a really, really good performance,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “I thought we dominated the game from start to finish. We knew if we kept playing in that manner, the goals would come and I’m really, really happy for the guys that they did come.”
Hristov tallied the Rowdies first goal of the night after taking a cross from Marcel Schäfer and sending it into the back of the net. It was his 13th goal of the season for the Bulgarian forward who has come up big many times this season for the Rowdies.
“I’m really happy that I scored, but I’m way happier to get a home playoff game,” Hristov said. “It wasn’t an easy game because they have so much energy, but I think we played so well and showed so much character that we were in control the whole game.”
Tampa Bay sealed the win with a stoppage-time goal when Guenzatti, the Uruguayan midfielder struck a perfect ball past Orlando City’s goalkeeper Jake Fenlason making the score 2-0 as the clock ran out.
“It feels amazing,” Guenzatti said. “Everyone was 100 percent working for each other and it pays off late in the game. We got the second goal to put the game away in front of the fans that came to watch us play.”
Rowdies – Martin Vingaard – 38th minute
Rowdies – Zac Portillos – 51st minute
Orlando – Pierre Da Silva – 76th minute
Rowdies – Hunter Gorskie – 80th minute
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Hunter Gorskie, Neill Collins, Zac Portillos; M Martin Vingaard, Marcel Schäfer; M Walter Restrepo (Darwin Jones 72′), Joe Cole (c) (Justin Chavez 83′), Georgi Hristov; F Sebastian Guenzatti
Orlando City B XI (4-4-2): GK Jake Fenlason; D Zach Ellis-Hayden, Zach Carroll, Fernando Timbo, Kevin Alston (Ben Polk 78′); M Tony Rocha, Lewis Neal (c), Jordan Schweitzer (Austin Martz 55′), Pierre Da Silva; F Michael Cox, Hadji Barry (Danny Deakin 66′)
The quotes and stats used in this story were provided by the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The video was provided by the United Soccer League.