Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Wednesday, September 27, 3 p.m. ET.
Goodman Stadium, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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Head to Five Bucks Drinkery on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg to watch with other Rowdies fans and enjoy drink specials during the match.
Bethlehem Steel FC: 11-5-11 (W-T-L), 38 points, 8th place
Tampa Bay: 12-8-7 (W-T-L), 44 points, 4th place
Tampa Bay is coming off a 1-0 win over the Charlotte Independence on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. Hunter Gorskie scored in the 33rd minute to lift the Rowdies to victory. It was Gorskie’s second goal in three matches since joining the Rowdies.
Following that win, the Rowdies need only five more points to clinch a playoff berth in their first season in the USL, meaning it could happen as soon as this weekend if Tampa Bay beats Bethlehem twice in a row.
The match against Charlotte was Tampa Bay’s first since September 6 due to Hurricane Irma and a scheduled bye. After winning 3-2 in Harrisburg on September 6, the Rowdies’ weekend match in Bethlehem was postponed to this week. Tampa Bay had a bye week the weekend of September 15-17, resulting in more than two and a half weeks between matches.
Tampa Bay is now in a bit of fixture congestion to close the season with this being the second match of a series of six in 20 days through the regular season finale in Orlando on October 12. Following this match, both teams will head to Florida for a weekend rematch under the lights in St. Petersburg on Saturday night.
Marcel Schäfer has been one of the Rowdies’ most in influential attackers in the last few months since moving into midfield and notched his team-high eighth assist against the Independence on Saturday night. He’s also scored three goals in his first season with the Rowdies.
Tampa Bay’s win in its last road match was only the Rowdies’ second road win this season. Road games have been an issue for the Rowdies for the last few seasons, with Tampa Bay picking up just 11 of 39 available points away from Al Lang Stadium this season.
Bethlehem has flirted with the playoff cutoff for most of the season and heads into this midweek test just on the right side of the line, ahead of ninth-placed New York Red Bulls II on goal difference, though the Steel FC has played one fewer match than New York.
Jamaican forward Cory Burke is Bethlehem’s leading scorer this season with eight goals. His performances this year have seen him break into the Jamaican national team. He’s coming off a two-goal showing in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday.
The Steel FC is 6-3-5 at home this season and has alternated between wins and losses in each of its last four home games.