I-4 Derby Part II – Orlando City v Tampa Bay Rowdies

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer,Tampa Bay Rowdies |

The second part of the I-4 Derby takes place tonight at the Florida Citrus Bowl as Orlando City SC faces cross-state and 2012 NASL Champions Tampa Bay Rowdies.  While this game is billed as the inaugural ‘I-4 Derby’, a home-and-away series between the two clubs, the two clubs actually met recently during the Disney Pro-Soccer Classic. It was a game that saw the Lions comfortably defeat the Rowdies 2-0 in a game that was pretty much one sided. Goals from midfielder Jamie Watson and star striker Dennis Chin led the way for Orlando while goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and the City back line kept a clean sheet.

Since then both sides have made additions to their squads with Orlando adding Orlando City U23s Captain Jonathan Mendoza,  Portland Timbers midfielder Freddie Braun and University of Tampa standout Brian Fekete to the squad. Meanwhile Tampa have added Bulgarian forward Georgi Hristov who played for both Lokomotiv Sofia and Slavia Sofia ,  midfielder Jamael Cox from Seattle Sounders Academy and defender Jordan Gafa from the University of North Carolina.

Tampa Bay comes into the game led by Head Coach Ricky Hill (pictured above right with Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath), who heads into his second season with the club. Hill led Tampa Bay to a record of 12-9-7 in the 2012 regular season before making a run in the NASL playoffs, topping Minnesota Stars FC 3-2 on penalty kicks. Lion fans will remember Rowdies standout and Midfielder Luke Mulholland, who won USL PRO Rookie of the Year after notching nine goals and five assists for rival Wilmington Hammerheads in 2011.

The I-4 Derby was announced this past November after continuous fan suggestion of creating a strong rivalry between the two franchises. The Lions and Rowdies, both recent champions in the USL PRO and NASL, are both top-flight clubs that show the rapid growth of the beautiful game in the sunshine state.

Tickets for the first match in Orlando can be purchased now by calling (855) ORL-CITY, while tickets for the second match in Tampa Bay will go on sale at a later date and will be able to be purchased through www.rowdiessoccer.com. Tickets for the Orlando match will not be included as a part of the OCSC season ticket package, but discounts will be available for season ticket holders.

The two sides will meet again on March 30 for the second leg of the derby in St. Petersburg, Fla. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium. The Lions will also continue their preseason against local college teams, including Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast and Rollins College. For the full preseason schedule, visit OrlandoCitySoccer.com.

More photos from the very first I-4 Derby are at FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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