Miami FC v Tampa Bay Rowdies: Florida Derby Returns This Weekend

One of the biggest derbies in US soccer history returns Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Rowdies visit Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium for a match against their arch-enemy.

Since the 1970’s, the names and ownership of both Florida clubs have changed on many occasions. But the competitive nature between Tampa and South Florida remains – more than 30 years later.

Saturday’s USSF Div 2 game between Miami FC and FC Tampa Bay Rowdies will be the first game between both clubs.

The Rowdies, managed by former MLS player Paul Dalglish, will be hoping for a strong performance on the field from a team that he has carefully molded over the last several months.

Miami FC, meanwhile, will be hoping for their first home win of the season after draws against Rochester and Vancouver.

But in a game like this, the storylines often carry themselves over to what happens off the pitch. Such as whether the Rowdies will bring 200-300 supporters for the 3-4 hour drive across state. And whether the South Florida soccer community will come to Lockhart for the first rematch of many between their team (i.e. the “Strikers”) and the Rowdies.

From personal experience, I have mixed emotions about Tampa fans. In the years of the ASL and APSL leagues from the late 80s and early 90s, I remember the jovial Rowdies fans standing in Lockhart to cheer their team on.

But I also remember a bus trip by Miami Fusion supporters for an away game against Tampa Bay Mutiny, where the Fusion fans (myself included) were chased and attacked by Tampa fans while exiting the stadium.

Let’s hope that the rivalry between both teams, on and off the pitch, will be a healthy competitive spirit.

Kickoff time at Lockhart Stadium is 7:30pm. But be sure to get there between 5-5:30pm for a tailgate party which will include free food and drinks.

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About Christopher Harris

Publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris founded the site in 2005. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who was born and raised in Wales, has lived in Florida since 1984, and supported Swansea City since 1979. Last but not least, he got engaged during half-time of a MLS game.
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13 Responses to Miami FC v Tampa Bay Rowdies: Florida Derby Returns This Weekend

  1. Robert says:

    Why are people always bitching about getting soccer in Florida when they all ready have two clubs! go out and support those clubs and don’t let MLS decide if you are a fan or not.

    • Miami Ultra says:

      Some of us do support our current clubs Robert. Problem is most soccer “fans” here are either a) “too good” for domestic second division soccer, b) used to top tier NASL/MLS soccer and won’t support anything less, or c) don’t know about Miami FC. Without promotion and relegation getting people to support a D2 club is tricky. Clearly Tampa’s ownership has done a better job in their short existence than Miami’s at running their club and promoting it. That starts with the team name. Rowdies is a recognizable and popular brand in Tampa. “Miami FC Blues” certainly isn’t in South Florida. MFC is supposedly becoming the Strikers next season, but they’ve lost 5 years by putting an inferior brand out there. Even using the Fusion name would be better.

      Can’t wait for Saturday. Should be a “rowdy” atmosphere in the stands. The only thing that would make it better is if Miami FC were suiting up as the Strikers in red and gold hoops. I hope this reborn rivalry will rekindle support for local pro soccer in both areas, and lead to bigger and better things in the future.

      • YH says:

        Tampa will bring more fans to the game: Guaranteed. They are a real soccer market, one of the best around not like pansy south Florida. It isn’t Miami FC- it is the market. It stinks, and has been proven time and time again. Tampa on the other hand would have worked in MLS had it not been a league run team without a hope of getting a SSS.

        The Rowdies will draw more fans in the home opener than Miami FC will for like 5-7 games combined.

  2. Kit says:

    What a joke. Who the heck are Miami FC? The Rowdies are one of the biggest brand name. This is not a rivalry. Tampa is real team with a real legacy. In the first year back they have local tv and radio deals. What station is fort lauderdale I mean Miami fc on ? I bet over half the fans will be Tampa traveling ones!

  3. Charles says:

    Not saying 1 person can do it, but I will guarentee that if your small time team is drawing 15k regularly like Portland, you will have an MLS team very shortly.

    BTW, I love the long term rivalries. Sounders and Whitecaps have played 112 times. very cool.

  4. Uncle Ed says:

    Let’s hope people show up to this game. I’m taking a bunch of friends and family.
    I think the change of name from Miami FC to Strikers will add flair to this rivalry. Lets see if this will materialize next year.
    But for now, Vamos Miami!

  5. Hook says:

    Knowing how you Miami filth roll, I’m sure there was a good reason you were “chased and attacked” by Tampa fans. Go home and get some more tattoos and plastic surgery.

    • JLay says:

      Hook, there’s no excuse for attacking other fans, period. People take their families to the games. I think you’ve seen Green Street Hooligans a few too many times.

      If Miami fans don’t “support their local team”, perhaps its because they’re sophisticated enough to know the difference between good soccer and bad soccer. Maybe once “yall” have electricity and cable run out to your trailers you’ll know the difference too. Please go home, drink another 12-pack of Natty Ice, put some bigger tires on your pickup truck and let the grown folk talk here.

      And by the way, we don’t get tattoos and plastic surgery at home, Billy Bob – that must be a Tampa thing. In Miami, we have proper medical facilities and tattoo parlors. You should check it out some time…

  6. Jason says:

    Man, we’ve really stretched the definition of the term “derby” anymore, haven’t we?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Jason, it’s a big state/country! Dallas and Houston play each other in the Texas Derby and they’re 4 hours away from each other by car.

      The Gaffer

  7. Jeff says:

    I’m all for rivalries but Miami vs Fort Lauderdale or Tampa vs St Petersburg is a derby. This is simply a rivalry like Newcastle versus Manchester United. The cities are 200 miles apart. It’s a three hour drive between the cities, not a half hour like a true derby!

    That having been said, the fans have been talking a lot of smack and that always makes rivalries closer.

  8. Garrett says:

    For their last preseason game, prior to any major marketing by the team, the Rowdies drew almost 3k (and they haven’t played a home regular season game yet). Expect big things from the club, on and off the field.

    And on a related note, the Rowdies’ new supporters group Ralph’s Mob has already outdone the Miami Ultras (aka LOLtras), bringing over 50 standing and screaming fans out to preseason games. I have yet to see evidence of Miami’s supporter’s section bring more than 15 people to a game.

  9. JLay says:

    George Best, Gerd Muller, Gordon Banks, Nene Cubillas… whatcha got, Tampa?

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