FC Tampa Bay at Carolina RailHawks
Saturday, September 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET
WakeMed Soccer Park - Cary, North Carolina
The match can be seen live online at www.fctampabay.com
FC Tampa Bay: 9-7-7, 34 points, 3rd place
Carolina: 16-3-4, 51 points, 1st place
2011 Series (W-T-L): 0-0-3
Carolina leads the season series with three wins.
What’s at Stake:
FC Tampa Bay heads to Carolina for the final matchup of the regular season between the two teams. On May 7, FCTB fell to Carolina 3-1 at Al Lang Stadium and the RailHawks also claimed a 2-1 victory on June 4 in St. Petersburg. In the most recent meeting on June 18 in Cary, FC Tampa Bay took an early lead on a goal by Warren Ukah, but Carolina rallied for a 3-1 win.
FC Tampa Bay remains in third place in the standings and has gone unbeaten in five of its last six matches and has lost just twice in its last 12 games. Carolina, which leads the league with an impressive 51 points, has already clinched a first-round bye in the 2011 NASL playoffs.
The game is the second match in a four-game road trip, the longest of the year, for FC Tampa Bay. FCTB opened the trip with a 2-0 victory last Saturday at Ft. Lauderdale. Forward Aaron King scored his eighth goal of the year in the ninth minute, giving FCTB at least one first half goal in its 10th consecutive game. Forward Mike Ambersley caught Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser out of position following an errant back pass and scored his 11th of the season in the 77th minute.
The Carolina RailHawks matched the club record for wins in a season Saturday night after defeating the Atlanta Silverbacks 4-2 at Silverbacks Park. The win was the RailHawks’ league-leading 16th of the season, matching the club record set in 2009. The four goals gave the RailHawks a league-leading 47 for the year, also a new club record. With the victory, the RailHawks clinched a first round bye in the NASL playoffs.
FC Tampa Bay took home some more hardware this week. Rookie goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was named the NASL Defender of the Week on Monday following the 2-0 win at Ft. Lauderdale, marking the seventh time an FC Tampa Bay player has received a weekly honor. The win extended the club record to seven shutouts this season, including the fourth clean sheet for Attinella this season.
On Friday, Ambersley was named NASL Player of the Month for August, the second consecutive month that FC Tampa Bay has claimed the award after forward Aaron King received the honor in July. Ambersley totaled three goals and three assists last month as FC Tampa Bay moved into third place in the NASL standings with three wins, one tie and just one loss in August. Ambersley ranks second in the league with a team-high 11 goals in 2011 and his five assists are tied for fourth in the NASL. He leads the club with 27 points and is the only player to have appeared in all 23 matches, logging a team-high 1,915 minutes.
Carolina is led by forward Etienne Barbara, who leads the league with 20 goals and eight assists for the RailHawks. Teammate Pablo Campos is ranked fourth in the NASL with nine goals and Jonny Steele is second in the league with seven assists. Carolina goalkeeper Brad Knighton is ranked second with a 0.93 goals against average this season.
Ambersley will miss Saturday’s game after receiving his fifth yellow card last weekend against Fort Lauderdale. The accumulation of cards requires that he sits out the next match.
FC Tampa Bay plays its third match in a season-long four-game road trip this Tuesday, September 6 when it heads to Minnesota for a 7:30 p.m. ET match at NSC Stadium.