FC Tampa Bay at Carolina
When/where: 7; WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, N.C.
Records: Tampa Bay 9-7-7 (34 points); Carolina 16-4-3 (51 points)
Watch online: fctampabay.com
Series: Tampa Bay will try one final time to beat the RailHawks after three losses this season. The latest meeting came June 18 in Carolina with the RailHawks earning a 3-1 victory. Since that loss, though, Tampa Bay has gone 7-2-3 (including one exhibition win) and pulled into third place in the NASL standings. At home, Tampa Bay fell 3-1 (May 7) and 2-1 (June 4) to Carolina.
Last time out: On Saturday, Tampa Bay went on the road to defeat Fort Lauderdale 2-0 behind a ninth-minute goal from F Aaron King and the team-leading 11th goal of the season from F Mike Ambersley … Carolina matched a club record for wins in a season (16) after its 4-2 win at Atlanta on Saturday.
Skinny: Tonight's match features the leading goalscorer in the NASL — Carolina's Etienne Barbara has 20 goals. Ambersley ranks second with 11, but will miss tonight's match because of an accumulation of yellow cards. He is a goal in front of Puerto Rico's Jonathan Fana. Barbara also leads the league with eight assists, one ahead of teammate and former Tampa Bay player Jonny Steele. … Carolina, which has topped the NASL standings virtually wire-to-wire, has clinched a first-round bye for the playoffs. Tampa Bay is third in the league, four points ahead of fourth-place Edmonton with a game in hand. … On Friday, Ambersley was named the NASL player of the month for August after tallying three goals and three assists in five league matches. Ambersley is the second-straight Tampa Bay player to win the monthly award. King was the recipient in July.
Bryan Burns, Times staff writer