The Rowdies are beginning their 2013 campaign this weekend as the NASL representative in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.
Coming off their second championship in club history, the Rowdies will showcase their talent in a tournament featuring six Major League Soccer clubs, beginning with a contest against D.C. United on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Despite goalkeeper Jeff Attinella moving on to greener pastures with Real Salt Lake of the MLS, the
Rowdies return with a strong core from last year’s roster, including team captain Frankie Sanfilippo, Mike Ambersely, Carl Cort, and Takuya Yamada, who was just recently re-signed to a new one-year contract.
This should be another exciting season for the Rowdies, who were honored and recognized in the offseason by seemingly everyone except President Obama. In November, shortly after capturing the NASL Championship over the Minnesota Stars FC, the team was given the key to the city of St. Petersburg by the St. Petersburg City Council, which also proclaimed Nov. 8 Tampa Bay Rowdies Day.
On Dec. 5, the Rowdies were honored for the Soccer Bowl championship by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and on Dec. 18, they were recognized by the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners. Finally, on Feb. 7, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi presented a resolution to the team honoring its accomplishments with owner, president and general manager Andrew Nestor and owner David Laxer accepting the award.
The Disney Classic is an opportunity for the Rowdies and their fans to see how well the team matches up against some of the best in the MLS. In addition to D.C. United, the other MLS teams are Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew, and Montreal Impact.
The tournament will also feature Orlando City SC, one of the premier teams in the USL Pro League. The Lions are coming off a 17-1-6 season in which they fell one game short of reaching the finals in the USLPL playoffs.
The Rowdies will take part in a home-and-home series against Orlando City, aptly named by fans as the I-4 Derby. The matches will be held on March 9 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando and on March 30 at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg.
A full preview of the Rowdies is coming next week so Ralph’s Mob and all you other soccer hooligans, be on the lookout. The Rowdies will start the 2013 NASL Spring Season by hosting the Carolina RailHawks in its 2013 home opener on Saturday, April 6, at Al Lang Stadium. For information on 2013 season tickets contact the front office at 813-287-1539 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Single-game tickets will go on sale at a later date.
2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic
All matches at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (800 Victory Way, Kissimmee)
Rowdies, Game 1: Saturday, Feb. 9
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. DC United
Kickoff: 8 p.m.
Rowdies, Game 2: Wednesday, Feb. 13
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Montreal Impact
Kickoff: 3 p.m.
Rowdies, Game 3: Saturday, Feb. 16
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Sporting Kansas City
Kickoff: 8 p.m.
All other matches may be found on mlssoccer.com.
Admission: Tickets start at $14 using the “Rowdies” promotional code. Click here for more ticket information. For ticket information for the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic, visit RowdiesSoccer.com.
Matches will be streamed live on mlssoccer.com/live