Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Two of the USL’s highest-profile clubs are set to clash when the No. 3-seed Tampa Bay Rowdies open their first USL Cup Playoffs appearance by playing host to No. 6-seed FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. Kickoff for #TBRvCIN is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on the USL Match Center.
The @TampaBayRowdies have been among the strongest home clubs in the USL in the team’s inaugural season in the league, with 11 wins sitting tied for second in the league behind only regular season champion Real Monarchs SLC. The Rowdies also enter the playoffs with a seven-game undefeated streak under their belt, with Marcel Schäfer coming to the fore in particular in recent outings. The former German international finished tied for second in the league with 11 assists this season, providing service for a good one-two punch in attack of Georgi Hristov (13 goals) and Martin Paterson (nine goals).
@FCCincinnati’s path to a second consecutive playoff berth hasn’t been nearly as smooth, with the side grabbing the sixth seed with a comeback 4-3 victory against Toronto FC II in its final game of the regular season. Cincinnati’s ups-and-downs in the league did not mirror the club’s performances to reach the Semifinals of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this season, however, and the club’s form in that single-elimination tournament could bode well for FCC as the season reaches the playoffs. With two defeats out of two in visits to Tampa Bay’s Al Lang Stadium, though, Cincinnati faces a tough task on the road.
110 – Tampa Bay Rowdies defender Neill Collins won 110 aerial duels in the regular season, the most of any player in the league at a 72.3 percent success rate.
31 – FC Cincinnati recorded a league-high 31 headed shots on goal in the regular season, and finished tied for the league-lead with 12 headed goals out of 46 total.
Tampa Bay (4-2-3-1) – GK: Matt Pickens; D: Darnell King, Neill Collins, Hunter Gorskie, Zac Portillos; DM: Marcel Schäfer, Justin Chaves; AM: Georgi Hristov, Joe Cole, Alex Morrell; F: Martin Paterson
Cincinnati (3-4-3) – GK: Mitch Hildebrandt; D: Harrison Delbridge, Justin Hoyte, Austin Berry; M: Josu, Kenney Walker, Corben Bone, Matt Bahner; F: Jimmy McLaughlin, Djiby Fall, Danni König
Tampa Bay – None
Cincinnati – None
REF: MALIK BADAWI
AR1: Matthew Osterhouse
AR2: Francesco Terranova
4TH: Jonathan Bilinski