Memphis, Tenn. — A match between two top four teams will take place at AutoZone Park when Memphis 901 FC hosts the two-time defending Eastern Conference Champion Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. CT.
No. 2 seed Memphis claimed its first postseason victory in club history last Saturday thanks to late goals from Graham Smith and Phillip Goodrum in a 3-1 win over Detroit City FC at AutoZone Park. Smith scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute, his fifth of the season, with a header off of a free kick from Jeremy Kelly, who tied his midfield mate Aaron Molloy with his 10th assist of the season.
Smith and the Memphis back line will look to contain a dangerous Tampa Bay attack that has lifted the club to a five match winning streak including a 3-1 victory over The Miami FC in the Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday. The Rowdies boast a +14 goal differential over their last five matches.
There’s plenty of history between the two clubs, as Memphis hosted Tampa Bay in the club’s inaugural match at AutoZone Park, a 1-0 Tampa Bay victory. The two teams split the regular season series this year with a 3-1 Memphis victory on April 23 and a 2-0 Tampa Bay win on July 2. The host came away with the victory in both matches.
The winner of this Conference Semifinal match will travel to Louisville City FC or host Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the USL Championship Conference Finals. Fans can watch the match on ESPN+ and Action News 5+ locally.
“They’re the two time defending Eastern Conference champions so there’s pressure on us for sure… They want to go back to a third conference final and a third championship. We want to be the team that takes them out, especially on our home field.” – Ben Pirmann
History in the Making..
2022 marks Memphis 901 FC’s most successful regular season in club history, surpassing the regular season club records for points in a season (68), wins (21) and goals scored (65). Memphis notched the club’s first postseason win with a 3-1 victory of Detroit City at AutoZone Park last Saturday and look to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win this weekend.
Memphis 901 FC has earned the reputation as one of the most dangerous offensive clubs in the league this season, especially at home. 901 FC had more that 6’000 fans behind them in their first round victory and will look to use their home turf to their advantage on Saturday. Memphis boasts a +20 regular season goal differential and finished the regular season second in the league with 40 goals scored at AutoZone Park.
The Race for the Golden Boot…
Phillip Goodrum has been the jet fuel as the man up top for one of the most dangerous attacking teams in the league. The forward set a new club record for goals scored in a season (21) in the regular season finale on October 15 and notched another goal in the first round victory last Saturday. The Nashville native finished second in the golden boot race and was named Player of the Week twice this season. Memphis is unbeaten in 17 of the 18 matches Goodrum found the back of the net, including his first career hat trick in a 4-0 victory over Atlanta United 2 on September 7.
Goals Scored Leaderboard:
1 – Milan Iloski – 22
2 – Phillip Goodrum – 22
3 – Óttar Magnús Karlsson – 19
T3 – Leo Fernandes – 19
4 – Hadji Barry – 16
Memphis 901 FC boasts one of the league’s most dynamic duos in the midfield with Aaron Molloy and Jeremy Kelly. Kelly and Molloy are currently tied eight goals and 10 assists, a single-season club record. Molloy has made his hay as the squad’s primary kicktaker while Kelly has been at the center of the 901 FC attack since moving from the back line this season. Molloy has made nine Team of the Week appearances while Kelly was tabbed as the USL Championship Player of the Month in May after a stretch of three goals and three assists in four victories for 901 FC.
1 – Antoine Hoppenot – 11
T2 – Aaron Molloy – 10
T2 – Jeremy Kelly – 10
T2 – Kenardo Forbes – 10
T2 – Rodrigo Lopez – 10
T7 – Hadji Barry – 9
Set Piece Superstar…
Aaron Molloy has made his name as one of the most dangerous legs from the set piece in the USL Championship. Seven of the midfielder’s 10 assists this season have come off of the set piece. Molloy sits fifth in chances created with 74 this season and second in the league standings with his 10 assists.
Defense to Offense…
Defender Graham Smith’s steady presence on the defensive line has led to strong attacking production all season. With 32 starts in 33 appearances this season, Smith ranks third in the league with 142 clearances. He’s also been a strong target on set pieces with five goals this season, all headers off of a corner or free kick. Memphis has recorded 17 headed goals this season, most of any team in the league this season.