Orlando City B vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Thursday, October 12, 7:30 p.m. ET.
Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
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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.
Orlando City B: 10-12-9 (W-T-L), 42 points, 9th place, Eastern Conference
Tampa Bay: 13-11-7 (W-T-L), 50 points, 3rd place, Eastern Conference
Tampa Bay arrives in Orlando with a postseason spot locked up, but in the thick of a fight for seeding. The Rowdies will finish somewhere between second and fifth place depending on results in the final round of matches. A win in Orlando would move the Rowdies up to second place heading into the weekend. If Charleston fails to win in Charlotte on Saturday night, and Rochester fails to beat New York and overturn a six goal deficit in goal differential, Tampa Bay would finish in second and secure home field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.
A Rowdies loss in Orlando, paired with a Charlotte win and Rochester win or draw on Saturday, would see Tampa Bay will finish in fifth place and open the postseason on the road.
Tampa Bay is coming off a 1-1 draw in a cross-conference clash on the road against San Antonio FC last weekend. Georgi Hristov put the Rowdies ahead 1-0 with a goal in the 69th minute, but Tampa Bay conceded in the 88th minute to drop two points and be held to a draw.
That result was symptomatic of a recurring problem for Tampa Bay this season. It was the fifth time this season that the Rowdies have conceded a goal in the 86th minute or later to change the result of the match. On three occasions, those goals have turned a potential win into a draw and twice they turned a potential draw into a loss. Of those five results, four have occurred away from home, including the Rowdies’ 1-1 draw in Orlando on July 13, when Danny Deakin scored a penalty kick in the sixth minute of second half stoppage time.
The Rowdies are riding a season-high six-game unbeaten run, with three wins and three draws since September 6. This is the Rowdies’ sixth match in 20 days to close the season, but the squad should be reasonably fresh. Saturday’s match in San Antonio featured five new starters from the previous Wednesday’s win over New York Red Bulls II.
Scouting Orlando City B
Orlando City B is outside the current playoff field in 9th place and can only qualify for the postseason with a win over the Rowdies on Thursday night and help from other teams. Orlando only trails Bethlehem and FC Cincinnati by one point, but has fewer wins than either side, so OCB cannot win the first tiebreaker with a draw.
OCB is coming off a 6-5 loss at home to the New York Red Bulls II on Saturday night in a crazy match. It was Orlando’s fourth home loss of the season. Anthony Pulis’s side trailed 2-0 only 12 minutes in and eventually trailed 5-1 before scoring a handful of late goals.
Hadji Barry leads the team in scoring with 10 goals, while Pierre Da Silva is the best creator on the roster with seven assists.