Orlando City SC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies announced today a home and away preseason friendly starting in March of 2013. The first match will be in Orlando at the Florida Citrus Bowl on Saturday, March 9, with the second following on Saturday, March 30 in St. Petersburg at Al Lang Stadium.
The series comes 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 top-flight clubs that show the rapid growth of the beautiful game in the sunshine state.
The Central Florida Sports Commission has also announced that both clubs will be taking part in Soccer Spring Training and the Disney Pro Soccer Classic tournament. The Disney Pro Soccer Classic will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Feb. 9, 2013 with the tournament culminating in the championship game on Feb. 23. The tournament will feature six Major League Soccer teams participating in Spring Training, as well as NASL (2nd Division) Champion Tampa Bay Rowdies and USL Pro (3rd Division) Regular-Season Champion Orlando City Soccer Club. Confirmed Soccer Spring Training teams also include Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact, DC United, Sporting KC and Toronto FC.
Orlando City won their second-straight regular season title in 2012 after totaling a franchise-best 17-1-6 (W-L-T) record and 57 points. The Lions have also done major work off the pitch, moving further along in talks of becoming an Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise with a recent announcement of an economic impact study, detailing the effects of brining a MLS franchise to Central Florida.
“We are excited for our fans that have been able to arrange what we hope will be an annual preseason competition with the Rowdies,” said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins. “It should be a terrific local derby.”
The Rowdies were crowned the 2012 North American Soccer League Champions after winning the NASL Soccer Bowl over Minnesota Stars FC on October 27 at Al Lang Stadium. It was the second time the Rowdies were crowned NASL champions, with the first coming over the Portland Timbers back in 1975. In 2012, the Rowdies won their second consecutive FIFA Fair Play Award and featured the NASL Coach of the Year and three of the NASL Best Eleven players.
"The Rowdies are excited to face off against MLS clubs in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic," said Rowdies President & General Manager Andrew Nestor. "We're starting the 2013 preseason one month earlier than 2012 to participate in this event and play top competition in order to maintain a championship caliber team. We're proud to represent NASL in this tournament, and the event against Orlando City will be another great experience for our fans.”
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.
To vote for the series name visit our Facebook Page! Once you are there, click on the tab that says "Vote Now!" Voting will close at 12 p.m. noon on Friday, November 16.
About Orlando City Soccer Club:
Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) is a premier professional soccer sports franchise in the United States and is a member of the USL PRO. The Lion’s pro team has won two regular season titles and one postseason championship during their short time in Orlando. Outside of the pro squad, OCSC also has their own youth club, Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) and a U23s team that participates in the PDL. For more information on the pro and youth clubs visit www.orlandocitysoccer.comand www.orlandocityyouth.org.
The Central Florida Sports Commission strategically solicits, creates and supports marquee sports-related events and businesses that enhance our community’s economy. The Sports Commission represents the counties of Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia, as well as the City of Orlando. The Sports Commission also produces sports-related programs for the residents of Central Florida including the Celebrity Mascot Games, the SPORTYS, Breakfast of Champions and the Daytona Beach Half Marathon. For more information, please visit www.centralfloridasports.org.