ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 13, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies don’t know their opponent yet, but they now know that they will get to open the USL Cup Playoffs at home after a 2-0 road win over Orlando City B on Thursday night in their regular season finale.
Here’s Three Things from the win...
1. Booked a ticket home
Coming into Thursday night’s game, the Rowdies knew that even though their playoff ticket was booked, there was still plenty of work to do. If the wrong combination of results manifested in the final round of matches, Tampa Bay could have finished in fifth place and opened the playoffs on the road.
With Thursday’s win, the lowest the Rowdies can finish is now fourth, which means Tampa Bay has earned the right to host its Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. That match will be played Saturday, October 21 with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Home-field advantage is more important for the Rowdies than any other team in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay’s record of 11-4-1 (W-T-L) and haul of 37 points at home in the regular season is the best in the East. The Rowdies enter the playoffs on a 13-game unbeaten run at Al Lang Stadium, a Modern Era club record. Tampa Bay’s only loss on home turf this season came on April 22, nearly six months ago.
2. Home away from home
Tampa Bay’s win in Orlando on Thursday night felt like a home win thanks to the tremendous traveling support in the stands. Rowdies fans possibly out-numbered Orlando City fans in Orlando City Stadium, leading to a friendly atmosphere 90 miles away from St. Petersburg.
Both of Tampa Bay’s goals came in the second half when the Rowdies were attacking toward the end their fans were in.
“It was great that we had so many fans here and they made so much noise,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It was great to get the two goals in front of them.”
Sebastian Guenzatti’s stoppage time goal, when he rounded Orlando goalkeeper Jake Fenlason and put the game on ice right in front of the Rowdies fans triggered a party that lasted long after the final whistle.
3. Hottest team in the USL
The Rowdies seem to be peaking at the right time, closing the regular season on a seven-game unbeaten run, their longest stretch of the season without a loss. The Rowdies have posted four wins and three draws since September 6 in the run-in to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay went into the September 6 match, an eventual 3-2 road win over the Harrisburg City Islanders, in fifth place. The Rowdies now sit in second, pending results in Charlotte and Rochester this weekend in the final round of the regular season.
The Rowdies are the only team in either conference of the USL without a loss in their last five games and Tampa Bay is actually unbeaten in seven.