Match Preview: #NCvTBR
North Carolina FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Wednesday, August 21, 7 p.m. ET
Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Follow us for live updates on Twitter at @RowdiesGameday
How to Watch
The match will be broadcast nationwide on ESPNews. It can be streamed here. International viewers can watch online here.
Tampa Bay: 13-3-7 (W-L-T), 2nd place; 7-1-3 on road
North Carolina: 12-5-7 (W-L-T), 5th place; 7-1-4 at home
The Rowdies entered the previous meeting on a 13-game unbeaten run in league play but North Carolina handed Tampa Bay its first loss of the season. A Zach Steinberger goal in the 54th minute gave the Rowdies a lifeline, but it was not enough to overcome a Dre Fortune brace.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies head to Cary well-rested after a bye weekend. Prior to that, the Rowdies were beaten 1-0 at home by Birmingham Legion FC on August 10 to fall out of first place in the USL Championship's Eastern Conference. It was just the fourth time in 23 matches this season the Rowdies failed to scored a goal and the third time they were beaten.
The Rowdies took over first place in the East with a 2-0 win over New York Red Bulls II on May 18 and held onto their position every successive Monday until August 12. Tampa Bay fell to second place on a few occasions due to the order matches are played in, but always returned to first place following the conclusion of the weekend slate. Tampa Bay can take first place back with a win over North Carolina FC. A draw would level the Rowdies with the Red Bulls on points, but leave them short via tiebreakers.
Tampa Bay was beaten by North Carolina at Al Lang Stadium this season but will hope for the continuation of a trend that has seen the road team win each of the last four meetings between the sides. The Rowdies won 3-1 in Cary on the opening day of the 2018 season, then lost in St. Pete on August 11 of last year before returning to North Carolina to win 3-0 on September 1. Sebastian Guenzatti, Tampa Bay's leading scorer this season, scored the second hat trick in modern team history in that match.
The Rowdies have been strong away from home this season with a record of 7-1-3 (W-L-T). Tampa Bay won four road games in the entire 2017 season, earning a total of 15 points away from home. The Rowdies have already taken 24 points on their travels this season with six matches left to play.
Among the players that has recently been sidelined by injury is goalkeeper John McCarthy, who strained a hamstring late in a 4-1 win over Saint Louis FC on July 20. McCarthy led the league in clean sheets at the time of his injury with nine but has missed three matches since then.
The Rowdies continue to be a well-balanced team. Tampa Bay's 39 goals are good for fifth-best in the Eastern Conference and their 16 goals conceded are tied for the fewest in the East with Indy.
QUESTIONABLE - Shawn Barry (leg)
QUESTIONABLE - Yann Ekra (leg)
QUESTIONABLE - John McCarthy (leg)
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