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Why Louisville City has become the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ biggest rival

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 06/14/24, 10:20AM EDT


Compelling playoff contests, stacked squads and pursuit of silverware have made meetings must see

The rivalry between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC has been built off heavyweight clashes in the regular season and playoffs over the past seven seasons in the USL Championship. | Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

For many rivalries, proximity is key.

You see it across the USL Championship. From the LIPAFC, to the Derby Del Camino Real, to whatever it is their respective fans are thinking about calling the battles between Oakland Roots SC, Sacramento Republic FC and Monterey Bay F.C., beating the team up the interstate is great.

But then there are the rivalries that are the exception that proves the rule. Simply two teams at the peak of their powers with equal levels of respect and distaste coming together for epic battles.

Think Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics, or Colorado Avalanche-Detroit Red Wings, rivalries so good you can picture in your mind how much they meant to everyone involved.

For the Tampa Bay Rowdies, that rival is Louisville City FC.

  • PERENNIAL POWERS: Since the Rowdies joined the Championship in 2017, they’ve accumulated the second-most regular season wins in the league with 128. Only LouCity has more in that span with 145.

  • PLAYOFF SHOWDOWNS: Across four consecutive postseason meetings between 2019 and 2022, and three consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, there was drama aplenty. Who can forget Lucky on the Spot for the Rowdies in 2021, or Elijah Wynder’s extra time winner for LouCity – arguably his breakthrough moment as a player – the following year?

  • STACKED HIGH: Every year, there’s top talent on the field. This year is no exception. From veterans of the rivalry like Louisville’s Sean Totsch and Tampa Bay’s Leo Fernandes to newcomers like the Rowdies’ Manuel Arteaga and LouCity’s Arturo Ordoñez, there’s quality all over the park.

What’s more, the new faces for the Rowdies know what this game means to the club.

“I’ve gotten to watch Louisville-Tampa Bay throughout the years, and it’s always a heated, intense match that has just a ton of quality on both sides of the pitch,” said Rowdies goalkeeper Jordan Farr, a veteran of Copa Tejas and the LIPAFC. “To be involved in it is nice, especially as part of an Eastern Conference title battle that is going to be tight at the end of the year. These are points that you should be desperate for if you’re on either side.”

On Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET | CBS Sports Golazo Network), the Rowdies and LouCity will come together for the first time this season. The series sits at six wins apiece with two drawn contests across the Championship’s regular season and playoffs, and for the Rowdies it’s a chance to close the gap to the current Eastern Conference leaders.

As much fun as whaling on Miami FC has become for the Rowdies – five consecutive wins and counting – this is the game that matters most to the fans, players and staff.

Get ready for another potential epic.

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