Plenty has changed in the three decades since the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the New York Cosmos last took the pitch opposite each other. Instead of names like Connell, Pelé, and Beckenbauer on the backs of the jerseys, it will be names such as Mulholland, Savage, and Senna. But one thing that remains is the fierce rivalry between the two clubs.
Rowdies midfielder Luke Mulholland is both excited and honored to take part in the new chapter of the rivalry, pointing out that the Cosmos “had a good preseason playing against good League One (England) teams and holding their own so they’ll definitely be a good team. This game means more than just three points, it’s our first home game of the season. The Rowdies and the Cosmos is the biggest rivalry that the soccer in the U.S. has had.”
The Preston-born midfielder went on to say that “pretty much the best players in the world have played for the Rowdies and the Cosmos, like Pelé and Rodney Marsh. It’s nice to be included under the same club name. I’ll definitely be playing and working hard like I do every game, but also with a bit more passion and I’m looking forward to it.”
Keith Savage is another player who, like Mulholland, has been enormous for the Rowdies so far this season. His father, Bruce, played against the Cosmos when he was playing with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the 1982 season. The midfielder explained, “There’s a huge history with Cosmos, I’ve never been a part of it and I’m looking forward to being in the first game of this rivalry in the new age of the NASL. It should be fun for all of us and it’ll be a great atmosphere to play against some great players.”
Rowdies captain Frankie Sanfilippo is also very excited for this game. He reiterated the game’s importance, not just because of the rivalry, but because of it being the first home game of the Fall Season. “We just have to start off on the right foot in the Fall Season. During the Spring Season we didn’t really do well at home, so we definitely want to start well and win all of our home games and it starts this Saturday. We’re expecting a big crowd and with the New York Cosmos coming in, you know they’ll be a good team so it’s a big game for us.”
The skipper went on, “It was a great rivalry back in the 1970s and 1980s and I think it’s great that we’re reuniting again. I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s game.”
Tonight's match will kick off at 7:30 p.m., with both clubs knowing that they will need a win to inch closer to a spot in the NASL Soccer Bowl 2013. To purchase tickets for this historic match, call (813) 287-1539 or click here.