FC Tampa Bay knocked off the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 Saturday night at Lockhart Stadium. With the win, FC Tampa Bay remains alone in third place in the NASL standings with 34 points and extends its road unbeaten streak to a season-high three games.
"It was pleasing to come here and take away the three points with a very good victory," said head coach Ricky Hill. "I am thrilled with how the players competed for the full 90 minutes tonight."
FC Tampa Bay continues its four-game road trip, the longest of the year, next Saturday, September 3 when it travels to Cary, North Carolina to face the league-leading Carolina RailHawks at 7:00 p.m.
"We managed to get three points, which sets us up for a very difficult stretch starting next week with three more on the road," added Hill. "It is going to be a big test for us and we will need all of our able bodies."
Forward Aaron King scored his eighth goal of the year in the ninth minute, giving FC Tampa Bay at least one first half goal in its 10th consecutive game. Forward Mike Ambersley was credited with his fifth assist, tied with Pascal Millien for most on the team in 2011.
Midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, starting in place of the injured Millien (achilles), started the play down the left wing before feeding Ambersley, who re-directed the ball to King for the first goal of the game. King now owns the two quickest goals of the year for FC Tampa Bay, in the sixth minute against FC Edmonton on July 27 and in the ninth minute Saturday night against the Strikers. FC Tampa Bay has now scored first in six straight matches.
"It was a very nice buildup and cross from Yoshi," said Hill. "I was pleased to then see the two forwards work together as they have continued to create opportunities for each other."
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made two saves in the first half, including an excellent stop from point blank range in the 28th minute on Strikers Teopolo Morales.
Ambersley gave FC Tampa Bay a two-goal advantage when he caught Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser out of position following an errant back pass and scored his 11th of the season in the 77th minute. His 11 goals are tops on the team and second-best in the NASL.
"Mike had a beautiful finish and tucked the ball into the corner of the goal," said Hill. "It came at a crucial time to give us a two-goal cushion and kind of deflate the Strikers slightly."
Attinella kept Ft. Lauderdale off the scoreboard with four saves total for his fourth shutout of the year and the team's seventh clean sheet overall in 2011.
"Jeff was very good tonight in managing his box, handling corners and making the saves when called upon," said Hill. "Ft. Lauderdale produced quite a few good scoring chances and our back four, including Jeff, all stood up to that pressure very well."
FC Tampa Bay has now claimed the season series and the Coastal Cup for the second straight year with two victories and one tie over the Strikers. The two teams meet for the last time on the final day of the regular season, Saturday, September 24, at 7:00 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium. To purchase your tickets for FC Tampa Bay home games, call 813-287-1539 or click here.
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango, D JP Rodrigues, D Takuya Yamada, M Mozzi Gyorio, M Shane Hill (Chad Burt 53'), M Keith Savage, M Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, F Mike Ambersley, F Aaron King (Warren Ukah 68')
Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Lineup: GK Matt Glaeser, D Toni Stahl (Walter Restrepo 59'), D Cristian Arrieta, D Martyn Lancaster (Captain), M Lance Laing, M Mike Palacio, M Bryan Arguez, M Gerson Mayen (Abe Thompson 67'), F Martin Nunez, F Leopoldo Morales (Yoximar Granado 78'), F Brian Shriver
FCTB: Aaron King - 9th minute (assisted by Mike Ambersley)
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 77th minute
FCTB: Andres Arango - 5th minute
FCTB: JP Rodrigues - 41st minute
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 78th minute
FTL: Walter Restrepo - 87th minute
FCTB: 9 shots (4 on goal), 5 fouls, 4 saves, 3 corners, 0 offsides
FTL: 10 shots (4 on goal), 10 fouls, 2 saves, 9 corners, 3 offsides