This evening, FC Tampa Bay--desperate for some sort of cohesive offense since last year--will send their players on the pitch to face off against last year's league runners up, the Carolina Railhawks. Carolina (2-1-1) will bring with them the NASL Player of the Month for April, Etienne Barbara. Barbara leads the league with four goals in four games, a franchise best start. Carolina will be lead by captain Brad Rusin, already named NASL Player of the Week for Week 2 after their 2-1 win over Montreal.
FC Tampa Bay (1-1-2) will look to recover from losing their starting goalkeeper Daryl Sattler to a season-ending ACL injury in the 10th minute of last week's tie with the Atlanta Silverbacks. Backup Jeff Attinella, a rookie from the University of South Florida, will make his first professional start. FCTB also picked up a new backup on loan as insurance, rookie goalkeeper Evan Newton, a star player from Old Dominion University.
The bigger question, however, is can FCTB finally find fluidity in their attack. Over four games, the team has scored two goals. With Pascal Millien and Tsuyoshi Yoshitake both fit to play today on the left and right wings, respectively, coach Ricky Hill will be trying to get crosses in from the corners to the heads of Warren Ukah and Aaron King. The accuracy of Yoshitake and the leadership of Takuya Yamada were missing from last week's draw against Atlanta as they were held back after missing a week of practice with visa issues.
Carolina looks to be settling in for another run to the playoffs. Whether or not Tampa Bay can upset the apple cart and find their finishing touch remains to be seen. The game kicks off at 7 PM tonight at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg. Coverage and play-by-play is available on 1010 AM. This is the second of three straight home games for FCTB, with the next coming Wednesday against expansion club FC Edmonton before traveling to Ft. Lauderdale next Saturday.