Over the last few months the Tampa Bay Rowdies, currently a USL soccer team, has been making the push to become the second MLS team in Florida. Which from a sport standpoint, expanding the sport is always great, yet there is something about the I4 rivalry/connection, that shows the Tampa Bay Rowdies will never live up to what the Orlando City Soccer Club has established within their first three years.

Primarily speaking from someone who lives directly between Orlando and Tampa FL, establishing a rivalry like this would just be asinine.

Mainly because in those two cities, they do not have opposing teams in any major sport category. Orlando has MLS and NBA, while Tampa has NFL, MLB, and NHL. Creating a rivalry so close to each other, is not smart for business, and it unfortunately because of the fair weather fans that have shown themselves in social media today.

With that being said, IF the Tampa Bay Rowdies were granted an expansion team in the MLS, attempting to recreate what Orlando has done in their first three years is a great feat to ask for.

Orlando has achieved the second highest attendance rating for three years in a row in the MLS, only behind the defending MLS champion Seattle Sounders, Orlando has recently built a privately funded stadium that is a beautiful piece of soccer art, and Orlando has had some of the biggest named players to ever play the game play for OCSC.

When the Tampa Bay Rowdies speak of MLS and everything they need to accomplish, they first have to go through Orlando, who has set the standard so high for expansion teams, that the Rowdies will be need all the luck they can get.

What other expansion teams are you looking forward to seeing in the MLS, and who do you think could be the most successful and the least successful in the MLS?

5 Replies to “USL Soccer: Why The Tampa Bay Rowdies Will Not Be Able To Compete With OCSC In MLS”

  1. This is the worst reading without any facts that serves both sides, that I have ever read in my entire life. Having lived in Tampa since 2008 (not between the two cities), the rivalry between the Rowdies and Orlando City is immense and would be very beneficial to MLS. There are many examples of teams that have rivalries that are very close to proximity. Lets go to Europe as a great example. Liverpool / Everton (@ Merseyside), Manchester City / Manchester United. West Hampton / Chelsea / Totenham / Arsenal. Real Madrid / Atletico Madrid, New York Red bulls / New York City FC. To make an argument that Tampa must some how meet or match the excitement of what Orlando has done over the past three years is insulting for any one to read.

    You have not accurately stated any history that is here in Tampa Bay or written anything that would help provide your article with any substantive value. Remember the ROWDIES started their inaugural year in 1975 (1st year in existence) in the NASL Soccer Bowl with a record of 16-6. The Rowdies at one point and time averaged over 20,000 fans at the old Raymond James stadium prior to NASL folding in the early 80’s. In 2012 the Rowdies won it’s second NASL Soccer Championship. It seems as if you have forgotten, are ignorant of, or is trying to make a case against the Tampa Bay Rowdies from achieving an MLS franchise.

    Under the ownership and leadership of Bill Edwards and the support of it’s fans like Ralph’s Mob and the people of the bay area, Tampa Bay is ready for an MLS team. The community is fully supportive of the “ROWDIES.” Just in May, the citizens of St. Petersburg overwhelming voted yes on a referendum in support of the renovation and expansion of Al Lang Stadium (the current home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies). We don’t need to be or achieve what Orlando has done. The Rowdies has it’s own rich and proud traditions and is achieving all of the criteria that MLS wants (including having the 11th largest t.v market in the nation). Now is the time for Tampa Bay to come back into MLS and retain our rightful place as we were one of the original 20 teams in the when MLS (first formed in 1994 when we had a franchise called the Tampa Bay Mutiny). In the past, we’ve also shared our rosters with spectacular players. Players like Carlos Valderrama, high-scoring forward Roy Lassiter and Martín Vásquez. To suggest or imply that Tampa will not have such caliber players or high profile players once granted an MLS is “ASININE” to suggest. On our current roster Joe Cole and Georgi Hristov are contributing to the history and magic of Rowdies soccer in the USL. This is an historic franchise. Arguably more history than Orlando City (which originally had it’s team move from San Antonio).

    Try coming to a Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City (B) game. Have you ever been to one? Try looking at the passion between both fans on March 24, 2017 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. I promise you, from what I have seen, this is the rivalry of the South. I would also argue that this would be one of the most intense rivalries in the MLS if granted a team here in Tampa Bay. The I-4 rivalry is alive and needs to be tapped into. I strongly disagree with your writing and ask that you take the time to actually do investigative journalism and create something that would be fair with an unbiased point of view.

  2. Wow.

    First off, it’s not “the MLS.”

    Second, go back to your high school and have them re-teach you how to write.

  3. Said Kelvin: “The Rowdies at one point and time averaged over 20,000 fans at the old Raymond James stadium”

    Uh, no, genius, Raymond James Stadium is a completely different stadium from the one the NASL Rowdies played in, which was Tampa Stadium, located just north of where RJS is now.

    If you’re going to call someone out on their facts, have yours straight.

  4. Rowdies were averaging over 28,000 by 1980; I was in attendance at Tampa Stadium for record crowds of over 40,000 to over 56,000.

    “With that being said, IF the Tampa Bay Rowdies were granted an expansion team in the MLS, attempting to recreate what Orlando has done in their first three years is a great feat to ask for.” Really? That’s cute. Tampa Bay Rowdies did what OCSC did, three decades before OCSC did it.

    Rowdies and OCSC already have had a heated rivalry going on, before OCSC even got to MLS. You apparently missed that.

    Garber likes local rivalries; you would know that if you did some actual research. From Garber’s comments in Tampa last October:

    “1. Garber said that MLS recognizes that the Tampa Bay region is the largest market without a team in MLS, in the country.

    2. Markets with two teams are incredibly successful. Garber pointed to LA and NYC; he was implying that Tampa and Orlando are so close that it would encourage an intense rivalry.

    3. Garber was skeptical of Miami making it happen (Garber DID NOT mention Beckham).

    4. MLS will probably not grow beyond 28 teams in the foreseeable future.

    5. Garber implied that Orlando City ownership group would not stop MLS from expanding to Tampa Bay.”


    “1. Don Garber was extremely complimentary regarding the Tampa Bay market and Al Lang stadium. Garber did go out of his way to mention the beauty of Al Lang’s waterfront view.

    2. Garber mentioned MLS looking to expand to 28 teams. Sacramento, Las Vegas, San Antonio, and many others were mentioned. Miami didn’t sound definite.

    3. Audience question was asked about Orlando having a hold of this market. Garber said Tampa Bay is doing great things and is a prime market.

    4. Don Garber also mentioned that it is pivotal that the St. Pete Mayor (Kriseman) and the other governmental bodies get behind bringing MLS to St Pete.

    5. Garber mentioned Bill Edwards by name a couple of times during the discussion. As soon as the discussion finished and everyone began to mingle, Edwards was the first person Garber spoke to. Garber acknowledged the large media market we have here in Tampa Bay. He also mentioned that if Tampa had an MLS team that Orlando City’s TV rights could be changed.”

    Nor is distance an issue:

    “107 miles from Orlando to St. Petersberg. (Orlando City Stadium to Al Lang Stadium.)

    110 miles from Columbus to Cincinnati. (Mapfre Stadium to Nippert Stadium.)

    111 miles from LA (Carson) to San Diego. (StubHub Center to Qualcomm Stadium.)

    116 miles from San Jose to Sacramento. (Avaya Stadium to Sacramento Railyards Project.)”

    Tampa Bay Area is the largest TV market not yet in MLS (#11); Tampa Bay Area is the fastest growing market of those markets currently trying to get in to MLS. You can connect those dots if you want to.

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