TAMPA — It's a long season, but Rowdies coach Paul Dalglish already has grown accustomed to juggling his lineup.
The next few weeks will be no exception. The Rowdies will be without defender Rob Valentino for this week's game as he serves a suspension for receiving a red card in last week's home opener against Austin.
After this week's game, the Rowdies could be without starting midfielder Jeremy Christie for more than a month. Christie was named to New Zealand's World Cup team and reports for training next month.
"You won't hear any complaints from me on injuries or suspensions," Dalglish said. "It's a part of football, and that's why you have an entire squad to deal with, just for situations like this."
Valentino will be slotted by defender Gordon Kljestan, who is returning from a red card suspension of his own. But it will be important to see if injured midfielders Erik Ustruck (ankle) and Scott Buete (heel) can return in time for Christie's departure, especially since the Rowdies will be in the midst of a five-games-in-16-days span.
Christie, one of the team's most versatile and experienced players, will be a significant loss. He has played every minute of every game so far this season.
"The squad's pretty strong," Christie said. "We've been a little unlucky with suspensions, but hopefully everyone will be back and available. It would be a nice feeling to think I'm missed, but at the same time, I hope I'm not."
BURT KNOWS RAILHAWKS: Rowdies midfielder Chad Burt, a St. Petersburg native and Northeast High grad, was a member of the Carolina team last season.
Burt knows the Railhawks' system well and said Tampa Bay will have to overcome Carolina's vaunted back line and dangerous counterattack.
"Carolina is a high-quality team," Burt said. "They've lost some points the past couple of games, but you have to figure they're going to come out for blood and try to get a win at home so they can get back on track."
SCOUTING CAROLINA: Both teams head into Friday's game with 1-1-2 records so a win is important for both to pick up points. But unlike the Rowdies, Carolina has a veteran squad that placed second in the regular season of the United Soccer Leagues' first division last season.
"Carolina still has most of the same players from last year," Dalglish said. "It's not going to be long before they catch fire and put together the performances they did last year. I just hope they don't catch fire against us on Friday."
KICKS IN THE GRASS: Reserve goalkeeper Phillip Lamarre, who served as the team's No. 3 keeper, has been sent on loan to Miami FC for one month. In that time, if starter Daryl Sattler or Josh Lambo (who is on loan from FC Dallas of MLS) are injured, Lamarre can be returned. … MPS Portland Phoenix, the team's USL developmental affiliate, won its opening game 3-0 over the Westchester Flames.