Welcome to the Classic Championship Game of the Day, where today we’re going back to the final weekend of the 2019 regular season and a clash between Hartford Athletic and the Tampa Bay Rowdies that had major implications for the visitors at Dillon Stadium.
Hartford’s inaugural season had seen it unable to find a path back to playoff contention after a disappointing start to the campaign. While that was the case, the Athletic had begun to find some good form since moving into their permanent home at Dillon Stadium, losing only once in their past five outings there after taking a 4-0 victory against playoff contender and fellow expansion side Birmingham Legion FC in their most recent contest.
There was much more at stake for the Rowdies, who entered the final game of the season with a chance to claim a home game to open the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs. Sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, Tampa Bay was a point ahead of both the fifth-place New York Red Bulls II and sixth-place Louisville City FC. That meant a victory against Hartford – which it had defeated 4-0 earlier in the season at Al Lang Stadium – would mean a return to home turf to kick off the postseason the following weekend, but any other result would leave them likely heading on the road to start the playoffs.
The scene is set, so sit back, relax and enjoy a classic clash from the Championship’s history.