ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies won’t have to leave the comfort of Al Lang Stadium this postseason.
The Rowdies earned the overall top seed in the USL Championship with 71 points, a new club record, and four points ahead of second-place Phoenix Rising FC. The 1976 Rowdies are the only other Rowdies team to finish with the top regular-season record.
Home-field advantage is something the team is looking forward to.
“Just being here brings a smile to our faces,” Rowdies defender Forrest Lasso told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “We love it. This is home to us. Obviously the dimensions, the surface. This is where we have an advantage.”
Another advantage for the Rowdies is the man between the pipes, goalkeeper Evan Louro. He and the defense have pitched a league-leading 14 shutouts while allowing the fewest goals in the league this season.
“He’s been fantastic, saved a couple of penalties,” Rowdies forward Steevan Dos Santos said. "He’s a guy we can trust. It’s good to have him there and our center back. They did a great job in the regular season.”
“We kind of defend as a unit,” Louro added. “It’s a culmination of everyone working together and following the staff’s direction.”
That’s a formula for success. The Rowdies have not lost a match in their last 17 games.
“I definitely think over the past two and a half months some of the football we’ve played has been elevated to a level we have not seen in the past two years,” Rowdies head coach Neill Collins said. “It's been excellent to watch.”
The Rowdies hope that trend continues Saturday night in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against FC Tulsa.