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Know Your Foe: Part One

By Rowdies Communications, 11/16/16, 9:00AM EST

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (November 16, 2016) — With the Tampa Bay Rowdies set to make their debut in the United Soccer League in March, a new set of opponents await. To help introduce Rowdies fans to their new USL adversaries, the Rowdies are publishing a three-part primer on Tampa Bay’s Eastern Conference opponents.

In part one, we’ll introduce the first set of five Eastern Conference foes. Check back the next two days to meet the rest of the field.

Bethlehem Steel FC

First season: 2016
2016 record: 6W-14L-10T, 28 points, -11 Goal Differential, 11th place
2016 postseason: Did not qualify
Head Coach: Brendan Burke
Stadium: Goodman Stadium, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (capacity: 16,000)

Bethlehem Steel FC is owned and operated by Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union and made its debut in the 2016 season. The name is a throwback to a legendary amateur team from the early 1900s that won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup five times, tied for the most in history.

Charleston Battery

First season: 1993
2016 record: 13W-8L-9T, 48 points, +5 Goal Differential, 6th place
2016 postseason: Defeated FC Cincinnati 2-1 in quarterfinals, eliminated by 1-0 loss to Louisville City in semifinals
Head Coach: Mike Anhaeuser
Stadium: MUSC Health Stadium, Charleston, South Carolina (capacity: 5,113)

The Charleston Battery is one of the oldest professional soccer clubs still operating in the United States. Founded in 1993, the Battery have won league titles in four different leagues. In 1999, the Battery opened its current stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium built in the U.S. Charleston is affiliated with Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United FC.

Charlotte Independence

First season: 2015
2016 record: 14W-8L-8T, 50 points, +19 Goal Differential, 5th place
2016 postseason: Lost 3-1 to Rochester Rhinos in quarterfinals
Head Coach: Mike Jeffries
Stadium: Ramblewood Soccer Complex, Charlotte, North Carolina (capacity: 4,700)

The Charlotte Independence played their first season in 2015, replacing the USL’s Charlotte Eagles, which moved down to the amateur PDL level. After missing the playoffs in their inaugural season, the Independence reached the postseason for the first time this past season.

FC Cincinnati

First season: 2016
2016 record: 16W-6L-8T, 56 points, +14 Goal Differential, 3rd place
2016 postseason:  Lost 2-1 to Charleston Battery in quarterfinals
Head Coach: John Harkes
Stadium: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio (capacity: 35,061)

FC Cincinnati had a hugely successful inaugural season in 2016, playing in front of some of the largest crowds in the United States. FC Cincinnati averaged 17,296 fans per game and drew a USL record 24,376 for a regular season match against Orlando City B. The Rowdies beat FC Cincinnati 1-0 in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this season.

FC Montreal

First season: 2015
2016 record: 7W-21L-2T, 23 points, -22 Goal Differential, 14th place
2016 postseason: Did not qualify
Head Coach: Philippe Eullaffroy
Stadium: Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (capacity: 3,500). Occasional games at Montreal Olympic Stadium (capacity: 66,308)

FC Montreal is owned and operated by Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact and has played two seasons in the USL without qualifying for the playoffs in either year. In 2016, FC Montreal finished in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Rowdies played FC Montreal to a 1-1 draw in a preseason friendly in March of 2015.