FC Tampa Bay knocked off NSC Minnesota 2-0 Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium with its fourth consecutive home victory in league play and moved into sole possession of third place in the NASL standings. With the win, FCTB also extended its unbeaten streak to four games overall, equaling its season-high, and the four consecutive home wins extend a team record.
"The guys feel good about themselves, they feel good about each other, and they have a belief when they step on the field that they expect to not be beaten," said head coach Ricky Hill. "For me, that's a great feeling. After the game, I told them that there's a mood amongst the guys in the locker room and a camaraderie that is building and growing."
Midfielder Pascal Millien gave FC Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead with a devastating long ball from about 20 yards out that bypassed NSC Minnesota goalkeeper Joe Warren, hitting off the crossbar and bouncing into the goal in the 45th minute. Millien's goal was his fourth of the season and was assisted by midfielder Keith Savage. It marked the eighth straight game for FCTB with at least one goal in the first half.
"It was my lucky day," said Millien. "I think that's one of my best goals ever. As soon as I took the shot, I thought it was in. We are chasing a playoff spot right now so we have to keep working hard."
FC Tampa Bay extended the lead in the 65th minute when team captain and defender Frankie Sanfilippo had his shot deflect off a Minnesota player and into the goal by the near post for a 2-0 lead. It was Sanfilippo's first goal of the year and came after a patient lead pass from forward Aaron King, who was credited with his fourth assist of the year. King has now scored at least one point in eight straight matches for FC Tampa Bay and his four assists are tied for second-best on the club.
"We have seven more games to go and it's going to be an exciting race," said Sanfilippo. "To come out of this stretch with seven points after playing three games in eight days just shows how everybody on this team fought up and down the field. It was a big win for us tonight."
FC Tampa Bay extended another team record with its sixth shutout of the year, including the third this season for rookie goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who was superb with seven saves on the night. One of his best stops came in the 83rd minute, when he made a diving stop off a deflected free kick.
FC Tampa Bay concludes its two-match homestand next Saturday, August 20 when it hosts the Puerto Rico Islanders at 7:00 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium. The team will host its second annual Celebrity Game, presented by Buick/GMC, at halftime of the match.
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango, D JP Rodrigues, D Takuya Yamada, M Shane Hill (Tsuyoshi Yoshitake 82'), M Pascal Millien, M Mozzi Gyorio, M Keith Savage, F Mike Ambersley, F Aaron King (Warren Ukah 68')
NSC Minnesota Stars Lineup: GK Joe Warren, D Scott Lorenz, D Kyle Altman (Captain), D Jack Stewart, D Brian Kallman, M Jeff Cosgriff (Devin Del Do 68'), M Kentaro Takada (Andrei Gotsmanov 63'), M Neil Hlavaty, M Lucas Rodriguez, F Tino Nunez, F Amani Walker (Kevin Friedland 78')
FCTB: Pascal Millien - 45th minute (assisted by Keith Savage)
FCTB: Frankie Sanfilippo - 65th minute (assisted by Aaron King)
MIN: Jeff Cosgriff - 62nd minute
FCTB: Warren Ukah - 77th minute
FCTB: Tsuyoshi Yoshitake - 83rd minute
FCTB: 19 shots (5 on goal), 14 fouls, 7 saves, 1 corner
MIN: 11 shots (7 on goal), 6 fouls, 3 saves, 5 corners