FC Tampa Bay lost to the Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1 Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium, ending its season-long four-match unbeaten streak. The win was the fourth consecutive victory for the Islanders and snapped FC Tampa Bay's team-record four-match winning streak at home.
"No one likes to lose and we don't want to lose," said FC Tampa Bay head coach Ricky Hill. "For the majority of the game, I was very pleased with how we played. I saw a lot more positives tonight than perhaps earlier in the season. Earlier in the year we were a lot more vulnerable and we were not as settled as we were through most of the game tonight."
After a 30-minute delay to the start of the match because of inclement weather, the game started off in a fast pace.
Forward Mike Ambersley gave FCTB a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute with his team-leading 10th goal of the year. The unassisted goal by Ambersley gave FCTB at least one first-half goal in its ninth consecutive match.
Puerto Rico quickly responded with the tying point in the 33rd minute on a goal by forward Nick Addlery inside the 18-yard box, assisted by midfielder Noah Delgado.
Puerto Rico took its first lead of the game when forward David Foley scored in the 75th minute with a strong individual effort down the center of the field, skirting defenders Frankie Sanfilippo and JP Rodrigues as well as goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. Foley has now scored in the last three league games for the Islanders.
FC Tampa Bay added five more shots against goalkeeper Ray Burse, last week's NASL Defender of the Week, but could not equalize the score in the last minutes of the match.
"We had plenty of chances, which is a positive thing, but we need to concentrate on finishing when we get the opportunities," said Ambersley. "In these big games, you have to finish your chances to win. Every loss is unfortunate and you don't want to lose any games, especially at home. There are a lot of positives we can take out of this. Now we need to put it behind us and get ready for Ft. Lauderdale."
At halftime, FC Tampa Bay hosted its second annual Celebrity Game, presented by Buick/GMC. The Buick Yellow Team won the contest 2-0 over the GMC Green Team on the strength of two goals from former Rowdies player Peter Ward and some excellent saves by former Rowdies goalkeeper Kevin Keelan.
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango (Kwame Watson-Siriboe 45'), D JP Rodrigues, D Takuya Yamada, M Shane Hill (Tsuyoshi Yoshitake 77'), M Pascal Millien (Kerry Baptiste 86'), M Mozzi Gyorio, M Keith Savage, F Mike Ambersley, F Aaron King
Puerto Rico Islanders Lineup: GK Ray Burse, D Richard Martinez, D Kevon Villaroel, D Jamie Cunningham (Logan Emory 51'), D Jay Needham, M Noah Delgado - Captain (Petter Villegas 67'), M David Foley (Joseph Salem 89'), M Aaron Pitchkolan, M Osei Telesford, F Jonathan Fana, F Nick Addlery
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 30th minute
PR: Nick Addlery - 33rd minute (assisted by Noah Delgado)
PR: David Foley - 75th minute
PR: Jamie Cunningham - 2nd minute
PR: Osei Telesford - 36th minute
TB: Keith Savage - 78th minute
FCTB: 24 shots (8 on goal), 11 fouls, 4 saves, 7 corners
PR: 10 shots (6 on goal), 8 fouls, 7 saves, 8 corners