San Antonio FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saturday, October 7, 8:30 p.m. ET.
Toyota Field, San Antonio, Texas
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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.
San Antonio FC: 15-10-4 (W-T-L), 55 points, 4th place, Western Conference
Tampa Bay: 13-10-7 (W-T-L), 49 points, 2nd place, Eastern Conference
Tampa Bay is coming off a 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday night, which officially booked Tampa Bay’s ticket to the USL Cup Playoffs. Joe Cole and Marcel Schäfer (2) scored the goals for the Rowdies as they moved up to second place in the USL’s Eastern Conference with two games left in the regular season.
The Rowdies can secure the No. 2 seed in the East tonight with a win, plus losses by Charleston and Charlotte and a Rochester draw or loss.
Schäfer’s two goals and an assist Wednesday night led the Rowdies to victory and continued the impressive form he’s been on in the last few weeks. In his first season with the Rowdies, the former VfL Wolfsburg captain has become one of the focal points of Tampa Bay’s attack. His 10 assists trail only Reno 1868 FC’s Chris Wehan (11) for best in the league. Schäfer has provided an assist in four of his last five matches, as well as scoring twice midweek.
While the Rowdies have set new Modern Era club records for home wins (11) and home unbeaten streak (13), Tampa Bay hasn’t fared as well away from Al Lang Stadium, with just two road wins so far in 2017. Tampa Bay does have a decent record at Toyota Field though, with four wins in six visits. The Rowdies beat the San Antonio Scorpions 2-0 on Toyota Field’s opening night, April 13, 2013. The Rowdies’ last visit to Toyota Field was a 3-0 loss on July 11, 2015. Of Tampa Bay’s 18-man matchday squad that night, five players (Matt Pickens, Tamika Mkandawire, Darnell King, Georgi Hristov and Justin Chavez) remain with the Rowdies.
This is the Rowdies’ fifth match in 15 days in a hectic stretch to close the regular season, but Tampa Bay is unbeaten in five games despite the fixture congestion. The Rowdies wrap up the regular season Thursday, October 12 in Orlando against Orlando City B.
Georgi Hristov is Tampa Bay’s leading scorer this season with 11 goals. In his fifth season with the club, Hristov is the Rowdies’ Modern Era leader in both appearances (142) and goals (49.)
Scouting San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC finds itself on the bottom end of a three-way tie for second place in the Western Conference, but SAFC has a game in hand over both Reno 1868 FC and the Swope Park Rangers. All three clubs have 55 points.
San Antonio FC has been difficult to beat in San Antonio this season, posting a 6-6-1 (W-T-L) record there this season, though the lone home loss so far came to Rio Grande Valley FC in its last home match, just two weeks ago.
Tampa Bay will face a familiar foe in SAFC winger Billy Forbes, who leads the team in both goals (9) and assists (6) this year. The former Scorpions and Rayo OKC star has scored one career goal against Tampa Bay.
Another familiar face waiting for the Rowdies in San Antonio is goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, who has had two separate stints with Tampa Bay. His first, 2013-2014, saw Restrepo make 23 league starts for the Rowdies. He re-joined the club midway through last season, but did not play in any matches. Restrepo leads the USL in clean sheets with 12 this year.