Sunday, April 15, 2018

Red Bulls II Runs Out Rowdies, Who Have Link To Baseball History

The Red Bulls and Rowdies in action. Photo by Jason Schott.

After the Red Bulls took care of Montreal in MLS action on Saturday afternoon, their USL affiliate, Red Bulls II, took to the Red Bull Arena pitch and rolled by the Tampa Bay Rowdies 5-0.

Red Bulls II is now 3-1-1 with 10 points, while Tampa Bay fell to 3-2-0, with nine points on the season.

NYRB II stayed perfect at Red Bull Arena, improving to 3-0-0 and they have outscored their opponents, 12-3, at home this season.

The Red Bulls' first and second team are a combined 6-0-0 at Red Bull Arena in their respective league plays this year.

Red Bulls II opened the scoring off a corner kick in the 18th minute via New York's first team loanees. Carlos Rivas took possession of the corner kick and swung it back in for Fidel Escobar, who finished near post in the 18th minute.

Holding onto a 1-0 lead into the second half, Ethan Kutler sent a through ball into the 18-yard box for Stefano Bonomo, who passed back to Jose Aguinaga at the top of the box. Aguinaga hit a perfect one-timer that curled to the far post to double the lead in the 53rd minute.

Bonomo then got himself on the scoresheet as he sent his shot just underneath the cross bar in the 61st minute for his first of the season.

MLS Superdraft First Rounder Brian White came on in the 74th minute for Rivas and bagged a brace in a six-minute span to cap the match off.

Evan Louro tallied a game-best two saves for his first clean sheet of the season.

Aguinaga has now tallied a goal in back-to-back matches.

Tampa Bay Rowdies and their connection to baseball history:

The Tampa Bay Rowdies play in Al Lang Stadium, which was used by the Yankees, Giants, Mets, Cardinals, Orioles, and the Rays for spring training for six decades. 

The original stadium on the site was the St. Petersburg Athletic Park, and it was the spring training home of the New York Yankees and Boston Braves from 1923 until after World War II

The first incarnation of the current Al Lang Stadium was built for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1947, and it was their spring training home for 50 years, until 1997.

The New York Giants used it for spring training for just one season, 1951, possibly their most memorable when they still called upper Manhattan home.

That season that was capped by Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard Round The World" that beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in a playoff to send them to the World Series against the Yankees.

The Yankees used it for spring training from 1947 to 1950, skipped 1951 (presumably because the Giants were there), and then returned for 10 years, from 1952 to 1961.

The New York Mets came in the following year, 1962, their inaugural season, and they held spring training there until 1987. They moved to Port St. Lucie in 1988, where they still are to this day.

Al Lang Stadium while it was primarily used for baseball.

The Baltimore Orioles had their spring training there from 1991 to 1995, around the time they opened Camden Yards and reinvigorated their franchise.

When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays came into existence in 1998, they held spring training from that season until 2008 (when they changed their name to simply the Rays) and they made the World Series.

The Rowdies became the primary tenant in 2011 and fully renovated it in 2015.

Al Lang Stadium as it looks today.

The stadium is situated near the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront next to the Salvador Dali Museum and Mahaffey Theater.

Al Lang Stadium is the centerpiece of the Tampa Bay Rowdies' Major League Soccer expansion application, which was submitted to MLS headquarters on January 30, 2017.

Upon being granted an expansion franchise in the MLS, the Rowdies would begin a fully privately-financed $80 million dollar renovation and expansion of Al Lang Stadium that would see the capacity rise to approximately 18,000 seats while preserving its cherished waterfront views. The expansion plan would not expand the footprint of Al Lang Stadium.

A rendering of what Al Lang Stadium will look like if the Rowdies join MLS.

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