FC Tampa Bay vs. Puerto Rico
When/where: 7; Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg
Records: Tampa Bay 8-6-7 (31 points); Puerto Rico 11-5-5 (38 points)
TV/radio: BHSN; 1010-AM; live stream on fctampabay.com
Series: This is the third of four meetings, and Tampa Bay has yet to defeat Puerto Rico this season. The Islanders won 2-0 at Al Lang Field in the second game of the season (April 17) for Tampa Bay. The teams drew 1-1 on July 9 in Puerto Rico.
Last time out: Tampa Bay took sole possession of third place in the NASL after defeating Minnesota 2-0 on Aug. 13 at Al Lang Field thanks to goals from Pascal Millien and Frankie Sanfilippo. … Second-place Puerto Rico knocked off league-leading Carolina 2-0 on Aug. 13 behind goals from David Foley and Peter Villegas.
Skinny: Tampa Bay could take a major step toward earning the second seed and a first-round bye for the NASL playoffs by winning tonight. Tampa Bay trails Puerto Rico by seven points with seven regular-season matches left. … Tonight's game features three of the top five scorers in the league. Tampa Bay's Mike Ambersley is tied for second in the league with nine goals, and Aaron King is fifth with seven. Jonathan Fana has eight to lead Puerto Rico and ranks fourth in the league. … After tonight, Tampa Bay won't return to Al Lang for 28 days. The team will play its next four games on the road, its longest stretch of the season away from home. … Tampa Bay is 6-1-2 over its past nine games including an exhibition win over Bolton of the English Premier League. The team has tied a season high by going unbeaten in its past four league matches. … Tampa Bay is 7-1-4 when scoring first. … Tampa Bay hasn't taken a penalty kick since Ambersley's attempt was saved June 12 against Atlanta.
Bryan Burns, Times staff writer