Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Carolina RailHawks
2013 NASL Spring Season
Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Al Lang Stadium (230 1st Street SE, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701)
Admission: Tickets for the home opener are available by clicking here or by calling the front office at 813-287-1539. The box office will open on Saturday three hours prior to kickoff.
Pregame Ceremony: The Rowdies will celebrate last year’s championship season prior to the match with the Championship Banner Ceremony.
The match can be seen live at www.rowdiessoccer.com via NASL live on Ustream.
Tampa Bay owns a 3-5-5 mark (W-T-L) against Carolina since its return in 2010. The two teams played to a tie in all four meetings during the 2012 regular season, while the Rowdies defeated Carolina 5-4 on aggregate in the 2012 NASL Semifinals.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies advanced to the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Finals after playing to a 3-3 draw in the second leg of the semifinals against Carolina on October 13, 2012 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. Thanks to a Tampa Bay 2-1 victory in the first leg of the series, the Rowdies advance to the finals defeating Carolina 5-4 on aggregate.
The Rowdies see the return of their main offensive threats as Carl Cort, Luke Mulholland and Mike Ambersley all returned for the 2013 season. Tampa Bay has maintained the backbone of last year’s championship squad, as 14 players, including nine that started in the championship game, are on the 2013 roster. Over the break, iconic defender Takuya Yamada signed with the Rowdies and will enter his fourth season with the club, while Captain Frankie Sanfilippo will return for his third season with Tampa Bay.
Key additions have been made to strengthen the defending champion’s roster. The back line has seen the addition of Jay Needham, who has had strong performances over the past seasons with the Puerto Rico Islanders. Recently, Tampa Bay has signed Jordan Gafa and Kyle Clinton, both offering a great deal of technical ability to the midfield and defense. Goalkeeper Diego Restrepo joins the Rowdies after playing two seasons in the top leagues of Venezuela and Colombia.
Georgi Hristov, Amani Walker and Devin Del Do joined the Rowdies in the off-season to reinforce the attacking third and fill in for the departed Daniel Antoniuk, Fafa Picault and Matt Clare. The speed and talent of the new forwards will surely make the Rowdies one of the strongest attacking sides in the NASL.
The RailHawks finished the 2012 regular season with 40 points, earning fourth place in the NASL standings. Colin Clarke is at the helm of Carolina, entering his second season with the club.
With a record of 10-10-8, they finished third in the league for the fewest losses in the league, behind San Antonio and Tampa Bay with both having only seven losses this season. Carolina scored 44 goals in the 2012 regular season, second-most in the NASL, but allowed a league-high 46 goals, tied with Ft. Lauderdale.
Forward Nick Zimmerman enters his third season with Carolina, finishing second in the NASL last year with 15 goals. The RailHawks added another offensive threat over the off-season, as forward Nicholas Addlery joined the club from the Puerto Rico Islanders. Over the past four seasons with the Islanders, Addlery tallied 48 goals and finished fifth in the NASL last season with nine goals.
Rowdies Head Coach Ricky Hill
“We have had great tests during the preseason to get ready for the NASL Season. Everything we have worked on for the last two months need to be demonstrated on Saturday against Carolina. Our squad is focused on obtaining the three points and starting out on the right foot. It has never been easy against Carolina, something that has been proven in the last matches we have played against them.”
The Rowdies will continue their quest to defend the NASL Soccer Bowl title next week, when they travel to play the 2012 regular season champions San Antonio Scorpions on Saturday, April 13. The game will be the first-ever NASL match played in the Scorpions’ newly built 8,500-seat soccer-specific stadium, Toyota Field.
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