TAMPA — For the first time this season, the Rowdies are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
The Rowdies (6-8-9) are in ninth place in the United States Soccer Federation Division 2 standings with 27 points, one point behind seventh-place Montreal and eighth-place Minnesota, though the Rowdies have a game in hand against Montreal and two against Minnesota.
The top eight teams in the 12-team league qualify for the playoffs, which begin in October.
"We certainly want to put that right," coach Paul Dalglish said. "We don't like at all that we're out of the playoffs. We're going to do everything we can to get ourselves back in them."
The next two matches for the Rowdies — tonight against Carolina and Sunday versus St. Louis, both at Steinbrenner Field — are crucial to their postseason hopes, especially considering the schedule after this week. The Rowdies travel to first-place Rochester on Sept. 11, then host second-place Austin five days later.
"I think we definitely need to get a win in one of these next two games," Dalglish said. "We'll be aiming to try and win both games. We've already beaten Carolina, so we should take good confidence from that."
INJURY REPORT: F Aaron King, who suffered a hamstring injury after scoring in the 26th minute of a 1-1 tie with Vancouver on Thursday and didn't play the rest of the game, is out for tonight's match. Dalglish indicated he was probable for Sunday.
F Aaron Wheeler (shin) is still not 100 percent and won't start tonight but likely will play.
G Daryl Sattler, who missed the Vancouver tie with a groin injury, is available.
D Gordon Kljestan (knee), M Jeremy Christie (groin), D Scott Buete (hernia) and M Erik Ustruck (leg) are out tonight, Dalglish said.
DALGLISH'S DILEMMA: Even though Sattler is likely to be in goal tonight, Dalglish wasn't ready to pronounce him the starter Tuesday.
Backup Josh Lambo did well enough against Vancouver to earn consideration for more playing time. In three starts this season, Lambo is 1-0-1, though his insertion into the lineup Thursday was his first league action in three months.
"I thought Lambo did well in the second half; the first half he was nervous," Dalglish said. "It was his first game at home, and he's a 19-year-old kid.
"When he started playing his own game, I thought he did really well."
KICKS IN THE GRASS: Tampa Bay defeated Carolina 2-1 on May 14 in Cary, N.C., in the only previous meeting between the teams. … King ranks third in USSF D-2 in goals with nine. … Rochester and Austin last week were the first teams to clinch playoff berths. Rochester won twice and Austin once. … The Rowdies host a "Faith and Family Night" on Sunday and will have a testimony and a Q&A session with Lambo after the game.