FC Cincinnati is heading back to Florida, a state where they have yet to lose a match. If you were not aware FC Cincinnati won the IMG Suncoast Classic in the preseason where they went undefeated including a 2-1 win over NYCFC of the MLS. During the regular USL season FCC traveled down to Melborne, Florida to face Orlando City B and won 3-1. Now the team is traveling down to , Florida for the third round of the US Open Cup to face a team whose name carries American soccer history. The winner of this match will be heading up to Columbus, Ohio to face the Crew of the MLS.
Today’s Tampa Bay Rowdies team was announced in 2008 and started their first season in the NASL two years later in 2010. The team faced licensing difficulties heading into their first season and had to assume the name of FC Tampa Bay until they got the naming rights in December of 2011. Now officially known as the Rowdies the club went on to win the 2012 the NASL championship in the Soccer Bowl.
Prior to the start of the Tampa Bay Rowdies “reboot” the team in was at the forefront of American soccer from 1975 until the league folded in 1985. Back then the club regularly drew crowds of over 25,000 and had seen peak crowds of over 40,000 and even two games with over 50,000 people. The original Rowdies franchise folded in 1993 seven years after the league in which they played folded.
Todays Rowdies are a little different and neither their stadium nor their crowds are nearly as large as they once were. They now play in the new NASL, which is now the second tier in the United States. Today the Rowdies call Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg Florida home. The former baseball stadium built in 1947 sits near a marina and an airport on the ocean and has since been transformed to suit the Rowdies and seats 7,500 fans.
Currently Tampa Bay sits in the middle of the pack in the NASL at number 6 with a record of 3-3-2 for the spring season. This will be Tampa Bay’s first game in the US Open Cup this year as NASL teams enter in the third round. This match will not be an easy one for FC Cincinnati as the Rowdies have some players with some serious name recognition. Earlier in May the Rowdies signed Joe Cole the 34 year old English players who spent many years in the English Premier League playing for teams like West Ham United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Cole also spent nine years with England’s national team where he made 56 appearances and scored 10 goals. Cole at 32 may not be the threat he once was, but he is definitely still dangerous on the pitch so keep your eyes on him.
— Bob Williams (@WilliamsBob75) June 1, 2016
FC Cincinnati currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference of the USL with a record of 6-2-2. To top things off FC Cincinnati is HOT right now coming off of two consecutive clean sheets and a 7 all match unbeaten streak. In FCC’s last showing in the Open Cup against Indy Eleven NPSL coach Harkes had a much different starting lineup which included 3 player debuts. This time around I would imagine coach Harkes won’t be taking chances with the starting eleven as he will only get three substitutions as opposed the 5 he would get in regular season play. The lineup may be slightly modified, but it should contain a core of the usual suspects.
Overall, this match should be a fun one to watch and with the chance of facing the Columbus Crew I’m sure the boys will be putting in 110%. The good news is the match will be streamed via the Rowdies YouTube channel. You can watch the stream here.