I4 Derby Continues as Tampa Bay Rowdies take on Orlando City in St. Petersburg tonight!

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer,Tampa Bay Rowdies |

The I4 Derby continues tonight as Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City square off in the second leg at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Lions won the first match in the derby series between the two on March 9 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The 3-2 scoreline really didn’t reflect the overall match as Orlando were the dominant force and should have scored more goals.

“We know we missed a good amount of chances in the first game against Tampa,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “It’s going to be a competitive game down at a tight field down there (in St. Petersburg). I expect a great game.“

Orlando and Tampa Bay have now met twice in franchise history, with both meetings coming within the last month. The Lions first met the Rowdies in the conclusion of the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic, beating the 2012 NASL champions 2-0 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Kick off is set for 7.30pm tonight and if Orlando wins or draws in St. Petersburg they will take home the title of I4 champions in the first of what both sides hope to be an annual series.

Both teams rosters have changed since the last time they squared off as Orlando, through their Major League Soccer affiliate Sporting Kansas City, have seen four players arrive on loan. Those players include Dom Dwyer, Jon Kempin, Christian Duke and Yann Songo’o. All four have seen playing time in two collegiate friendlies since their arrival, making Saturday’s match even more crucial for each player as the 2013 USL PRO season starts at the beginning of April. Also, fan favorite Kevin Molino and 2012 USL PRO Most Valuable Player has resigned for the Lions and he’ll be looking to add to last seasons seven assists and three goals.

 “Basically everybody is trying to get themselves into pole position before the start of the season,” Heath added.

The Rowdies, meanwhile, will have 18 signed players available for Saturday’s match, as well as five trialists. On Wednesday they announced the signing of midfielder Kyle Clinton and defender Jordan Gafa, both to a two-year contract with the second year being a club option. Gafa was previously captain of the 2012 University of North Carolina soccer team, where he was known for his technical ability at the right-back position while Clinton joined the Rowdies as a trialist at the start of the 2013 season and has seen action in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.

Rowdies Head Coach Ricky Hill said: “It’s great that we have an opportunity to play Orlando at Al Lang on Saturday. The squad has been working hard to come out of this series with a win and we hope to prove it on the field. It is our first match at Al Lang and we are excited to get back to our home turf, where we have proven to be very strong over the last two seasons.”

Ahead of the game, the Rowdies will celebrate last year’s championship season with the players and technical staff that were part of the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Championship receiving a championship ring produced by Herff Jones’ Masters Division. It promises to be a great night for Florida soccer fans and as usual we’ll be bringing you coverage of the 2nd Leg of the I4 Derby.

Here’s our photos from the first leg:







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