Match Preview: Rowdies vs Birmingham
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Birmingham Legion FC
Friday, September 23, 7:30 pm ET
Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, FL
Tickets: Fans can purchase tickets for the match here or at the Al Lang box office starting at 4 pm on matchday.
Pre-Game Show: Get ready for the match with the pre-game show hosted by The Unused Substitutes podcast. The show kicks off at 6:30 pm ET on Twitch.TV/RowdiesGG.
Legacy Night Giveaway: The first 2,000 fans through the gates on Friday night will receive a commemorative newspaper front page celebrating the Rowdies 2012 championship.
Watch: Fans can stream the match on ESPN+.
Follow Along: Live updates on Twitter at @RowdiesGameday.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies return to Al Lang Stadium this Friday on the back of two narrow defeats on the road. They face a Birmingham Legion FC side on a good run of form and sit even with the Rowdies at 54 points in the Eastern Conference standings. Tampa Bay still holds an important game in hand on Birmingham.
"Every year, like ourselves, Birmingham has kept the real core of their team. I think right their core is at its peak. Because of their consistency, their quality, they're just in a really good spot. They're a difficult opponent because they're trying to get where we've been and I'm sure their guys are highly motivated for it.
Friday is the first of Tampa Bay's final five matches before the start of the USL Championship preseason. The Rowdies will play four of those final matches right at home, only having to travel out to the west coast for a matchup with Monterey Bay next Saturday. A homestand to end the season gives the Rowdies an excellent chance to pick up points heading into the postseason. The Rowdies have not suffered a defeat at home since April 30.
Points are at a premium for the Rowdies, who are still jockeying to finish as high up in the standings as possible in order to guarantee home field advantage in the first round, at least. They sit in a precarious position at the moment as the third place team in the East, only two points ahead of 5th-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
"We wanna win a game on Friday night," said Collins. "We're very much focused on being in the moment we're in, and that's Birmingham at home and performing well. The best way to go into the playoffs playing well, full of confidence. Right now I'm just focused on how we get a good performance on Friday because I think that's most important."
Cochran's Season Comes to an End
The Rowdies will face the rest of the season without their regular starter in net. Keeper CJ Cochran is out for the rest of the year after undergoing successful surgery this week for a fractured tibia suffered in last week's loss to Detroit. With Cochran out for Friday's match, Phil Breno is set to make his first start for the Rowdies since joining the club on loan from USL League One side Forward Madison FC in July. Prior to signing with Forward Madison at the start of 2021, Breno made ten appearances in the USL Championship with the Charleston Battery
2012 Championship Reunion
The 2012 Rowdies team that claimed the club's second ever outdoor league title is set to reunite at Al Lang on Friday night. The team will participate in a pre-match autograph session before being honored during an on-field halftime ceremony. recognizing their memorable victory in the second leg of the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Final.
75/10 Club Unveiling
On Friday, the Rowdies are also set to unveil the new "75/10 Club," which will honor and recognize individuals who have helped establish the Rowdies as an iconic name in soccer through their contributions on the field and in the community. Mike Connell, Perry Van der Beck, and Keith Savage will be the first members inducted into the 75/10 Club. During the induction at halftime of Friday's match, each player will have their names enshrined on the stands at Al Lang.
Sebastian Guenzatti is one goal away from setting a new Rowdies all-time scoring record. He is now tied with Georgi Hristov at 60 goals for the Green & Gold.
Forward Kyle Greig is nearing 15,000 minutes played in the USL Championship regular season. He currently sits at 14,816 minutes played heading into the weekend.
Leo Fernandes and Hilton are both nearing 30 regular season assists in the USL. Both are currently at 28 assists.
Leo Fernandes is nearing his 150th appearance for the Rowdies. He is at 148 heading into Saturday's match.
Lewis Hilton is nearing his 200th USL Championship regular-season appearance. He is currently at 198 appearances.
OUT: Jake Areman, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, CJ Cochran, Robert Castellanos
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