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March to the Match: at Tampa Bay Rowdies

WHO:

Tampa Bay Rowdies, 4-2-2, 14 points, 2nd place Eastern Conference

WHAT:

The first match in what will ultimately be at least a four game away trip. [single tear]

WHEN:

Saturday, May 13, 2017, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:

Al Lang Stadium, 230 1st St SE, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. Of the two St. Petersburgs I know of, this one is preferable to the other, and was not named Leningrad for about 65 years last century.

WATCH:

This one’s on Big Fox, WDRBNews 41 for those of you that still have TVs. I liked Brian Davis’s advice on Barrel Proof earlier this week: instead of staying home, go to a random bar or restaurant and ask them to turn on the game. Then act like you normally act when you watch soccer and watch in amazement as you are either suddenly surrounded by people just like you or quietly shunned and asked to leave the premises. Either way, it’s great for water cooler talk on Monday!

Louisville City is having their watch party at Boombozz taphouse in St. Matthews, and Against the Grain, Saints, Molly Malone’s, and Great Flood Brewery will all have the game on, too. You can also do it the old fashioned way and watch it on the YouTubes right here:

WHO, AGAIN?

Tampa is still quite good. They’re especially good at home. Of the eleven goals the Rowdies have scored this season, nine were scored at Al Lang. They have one of the highest, if not the highest, player wage bills in the league, and players we all know and love. That said, they’re not statistically that much better than Louisville City, really. They’re a bit foul-y though, and you’ll remember the home leg of this series was pretty physical.

I’m guessing we can expect something fairly similar in Tampa Bay. James O’Connor had a very good game plan agains the Rowdies last time out, essentially shutting down their wings and forcing them to play through the middle, where Speedy Williams and Paolo DelPiccolo mostly ate them up. Al Lang is a bit roomier, so that game plan will probably need to be tweaked or scrapped altogether. Or not, who knows. O’Connor is a stubborn guy, but he’s also a professional soccer manager, while I’m just a guy with permission to write words on the internet.

This will also be our first rendezvous with TBR’s supporters, most notably Ralph’s Mob. They’ve been around awhile, and apparently are fond of using French in their chants. Keep an eye out for those guys, I guess.

This is a pretty important game. Louisville City is four points behind Charleston with a game in hand, so a win doesn’t mean they catch the Battery this weekend. Also, as I said before, Tampa is very good, so a road draw wouldn’t be the worst result in the world. Either way, it should be a pretty entertaining game, and it beats no soccer at all.

COME ON, CITY!