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Orlando City to meet Tampa Bay Rowdies in Florida

Official release from Orlando City SC

Orlando City SC faces cross-state and 2012 NASL Champion Tampa Bay Rowdies this Saturday, March 9, at Fifth Third Bank Field at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

In the inaugural 'I-4 Derby', a home-and-away series between the two clubs, Orlando looks to gain further traction heading into the 2013 USL PRO regular season.

The last time the two clubs met, the Lions defeated the Rowdies 2-0 in the conclusion of the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic last Saturday. Goals from Midfielder Jamie Watson and Forward Dennis Chin led the way for Orlando. Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and the City backline held their own against the Rowdies attack, keeping their first clean sheet in the PSC vs. cross-state Tampa.

The Lions have made roster moves since the last meeting against the Rowdies, adding Orlando City U23s Captain Jonathan Mendoza and University of Tampa standout Brian Fekete to the squad. Both had previously been on trial with Orlando before signing with the team. Defender Jerome Mechack was also signed by Major League Soccer's (MLS) Sporting Kansas City after spending most of the 2013 preseason on trial.

Tampa Bay comes into the game led by Head Coach Ricky Hill, who heads into his second season with the club. Hill led Tampa Bay to a record of 12-9-7 in the 2012 regular season before making a run in the NASL playoffs, topping Minnesota Stars FC 3-2 on penalty kicks. Lion fans will remember Rowdies standout and Midfielder Luke Mulholland, who won USL PRO Rookie of the Year after notching nine goals and five assists for rival Wilmington Hammerheads in 2011.

The I-4 Derby was announced this past November 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 both top-flight clubs that show the rapid growth of the beautiful game in the sunshine state.

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. Tickets for the Orlando match will not be included as a part of the OCSC season ticket package, but discounts will be available for season ticket holders.

The two sides will meet again on March 30 for the second leg of the derby in St. Petersburg, Fla. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium. The Lions will also continue their preseason against local college teams, including Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast and Rollins College. For the full preseason schedule, visit OrlandoCitySoccer.com.

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