The first-place Carolina RailHawks (3W-1T-1L, 10pts) take on the NASL’s Fall Season remaining unbeaten, Tampa Bay Rowdies (1W-4T-0L, 7pts) tonight at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30pm ET. The match will be broadcast live on www.CarolinaRailHawks.comand www.NASL.com.
“Coming off a disappointing result over the weekend, we need to continue our strong week of training and be ready to play from the opening whistle,” said RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke. “The first goal is going to be important.”
The RailHawks and NASL leading goal scorer, Brian Shriver, journey to Al Lang Stadium looking to rebound from their first loss of the 2013 Fall Season. The previous two matches between Carolina and Tampa Bay resulted in a season opening 0-0 draw in Florida, followed by the stunning 2-1 RailHawks victory at WakeMed Soccer Park in June. After going down a goal, RailHawks’ Cesar Elizondo and Tiyi Shipalane each netted a stoppage-time goal to steal the three points.
Tonight’s match will see the NASL’s statistically strongest defense and strongest offense pitted against each other. The RailHawks ascent to the top of the table has been partly due to only allowing 2 goals through 5 matches, while Tampa Bay has registered a league-high 10 goals.
On Saturday, September 14, just one week after the teams meet in Florida, the RailHawks and Rowdies will face off again, this time at WakeMed Soccer Park. Although unusual, this will be the second time the clubs have in back-to-back weeks. To close out the 2012 NASL Regular Season, the RailHawks and Rowdies met on September 19 and 22 with 1-1 and 0-0 draws, respectively.
Brian Shriver’s NASL leading 12 goals and pursuit of the RailHawks record books has been a big part of the RailHawks 2013 success, but the improved play of the RailHawks backline has them back at the top of the NASL standings. After registering only one shutout in the NASL Spring Season, a 0-0 tie in Tampa Bay on the NASL Spring opening weekend, Akira Fitzgerald and his backline have recorded three shutouts over five matches. During the Spring Season, the RailHawks allowed 1.33 goals per game. Since the start of the Fall Season, opponents have beaten Fitzgerald only twice for a meager 0.4 goals per game.
All-time, the RailHawks have enjoyed a 6W-6T-2L advantage over Tampa Bay and have a 4-to-1 point lead in the 2013 series (1W-1T-0L). Despite the RailHawks road woes, they have never failed to secure a point when they visit Tampa Bay with a 3W-4T-0L record. Since 2012, the RailHawks have visited Al Lang Stadium 4 times and all 4 resulted in ties with score lines of 1-1, 1-1, 3-3, and 0-0.
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