ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 13, 2017) — The playoff field is set in the Eastern Conference after the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ 2-0 win over Orlando City B on Thursday night, but the seeding will be determined in the final round of matches.
The Rowdies are in second place at the moment and can finish anywhere between second and fourth, though it’s nearly guaranteed to be either second or third with Rochester needing to overturn some unlikely tiebreakers to move ahead of Tampa Bay.
If Tampa Bay finishes in second, it guarantees itself home games in both of the first two rounds of the playoffs and puts itself at the head of the line to host the Eastern Conference Final should top-seeded Louisville City FC get upset.
Finishing in third or fourth would likely see the Rowdies head onto the road in the second round.
For the Rowdies to finish in second place, No. 5 Charlotte must avoid losing at home on Saturday night against No. 3 Charleston AND No. 4 Rochester must fail to beat the New York Red Bulls II by nine goals or more. With it being extremely unlikely that the Rhinos can pull off their result, all Rowdies eyes must be on the showdown in Charlotte. That match kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday and will be streamed here.
Barring a nine-goal win by Rochester, if the Independence beats Charleston or holds on for a draw, Tampa Bay will finish in second place. Charleston has won both prior meetings this season by a combined score of 5-0, including a 2-0 win in Charlotte on April 1.
As for the Rowdies’ potential first round opponents, it’s likely Tampa Bay will line up against one of the Bethlehem Steel, New York Red Bulls II or FC Cincinnati in the opening round of the USL Cup Playoffs depending on how the seeding shakes out.
Tampa Bay drew both matches against Bethlehem in the regular season. The Rowdies lost 4-2 in New York on September 2, but then beat the Red Bulls 3-2 at home on October 4. Tampa Bay drew 1-1 in Cincinnati on April 19 and then beat them 2-0 in St. Pete on July 6.