Before the fireworks are set off tomorrow night, the Tampa Bay Rowdies look to light up Tampa Bay.
It's their annual July 4th soccer spectacle against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. It's a long-standing soccer tradition that adds a little green to a holiday that's all about red, white and blue.
The Rowdies get a kick out of preparing for their oldest rival -- even for players that weren't even born when it first started back in 1977.
For the Rowdies, July 4th is a time to celebrate and have fun. A day for fireworks, soccer -- and yes, Strikers.
"Wow, it sounds like in that order I guess," said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. "Fireworks will hopefully come after the Rowdies and Strikers battle it out. Yeah, you're right it's a great occasion as usual. Fourth of July and playing our greatest rival."
"It dates back to, back in the days," said Rowdies goalie Diego Restrepo. "I hear a lot about it. We're excited. A rivalry in every sport is a great match and we are excited to play tomorrow night."
This matchup is a chance for the Rowdies to end the first half of their season with a bang. They can't afford for it to be a dud. Since pulling off the biggest win in franchise history against Seattle a month ago, the Rowdies have won just once in their last five games.
"Coming in, we just want to finish strong," said Rowdies defender Frankie Sanfilippo. "Just try to get 2nd place out of this. Then get a nice little break, then start the fall season on the right foot."
Even with a win against the Strikers, the Rowdies will come up short in attaining their first half goal, which was to win the first half. They still have one goal that they can achieve: Win their first home game of the season.
"Ultimately we want to win," said Hill. "Six games at home without winning a home game, if we don't manage to win tomorrow night will be way-way too many for us as a team. It's not what we are used to. Only the players can influence that."
"We just have to come out tomorrow, execute our game plan and just play soccer," Restrepo said.
There will be fireworks after the game and the Rowdies want to be the one that ignites the night with a win.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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