By TRAVIS CLARK
Can the Tampa Bay Rowdies slow down the Austin Aztex?
It's a question the Florida side will look to answer on a trip to House Park in Austin, Tex. Saturday evening (8:30 p.m.). Two previous matches between the two sides this season have already yielded entertaining draws, one a 3-3 encounter, the other 2-2, both back in April.
Stakes are high for the visiting Rowdies, in need of full points to solidify their chances at the playoffs. Three points would be huge, particularly against Austin. For the Aztex, new addition Randi Patterson will get a shot at playing time and show what he can do.
Here's a look at the rest of this weekend's Division 2 action:
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. A.C. St. Louis, 8:10 p.m.
The Vancouver Whitecaps continually have one eye on next year, while maintaining excellent results in current league player. Forward Marlon James was released this week to make room for the addition of young striker Jonathan McDonald. At just 22, McDonald is likely an option for next season's MLS side, as well as helping the Whitcaps leave Division 2 on a high note. Friday evening's match against A.C. St. Louis is a chance for Vancouver to win for once, as opposed to their seemingly-favored ties.
Montreal Impact vs. Carolina Railhawks, 7:00 p.m.
Two NASL Conference foes square off in Carolina, both looking to hunt down Vancouver at the top of the conference standings. The Railhawks enjoy the advantage of having played four less than the Whitecaps and three less than Montreal. Both will want to improve their playoff standing — Carolina currently sitting sixth and Montreal seventh respectively, and will duke it out to take all three points.
Miami FC vs. Puerto Rico Islanders, 8:05 p.m.
For as underwhelming a season that the Puerto Rico Islanders have had, they remain in the eighth and final playoff spot in USSF D2. Miami's visit to the island is an opportunity to grab all three points — Miami's woes have been well-documented. Colin Clarke has a chance to use the Islanders success in the CONCACAF Champions League to increase their focus on USSF D2 challenges that lie ahead of them.