FC Tampa Bay held a two-hour training session Wednesday morning at Shimberg Fields as it prepares for its toughest, and arguably most important, stretch of the 2011 season. FCTB begins a season-long four-match road trip this Saturday, August 27 at Ft. Lauderdale at 7:30 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium.
"I thought we had a good practice today, very competitive," said FC Tampa Bay assistant coach David Hayes. "When we lose, the guys are on edge. We just lost to Puerto Rico, but we created enough chances to win and defended well for the most part. We know that we can turn it around and we have won on the road this season."
FC Tampa Bay starts its road swing this Saturday against the Strikers, the third meeting between the teams this season. FCTB owns a victory and a tie in the first two matchups. Following the game, FCTB returns to the Bay Area to practice for a few days next week before heading back on the road for three more road tests starting Saturday, September 3 at league-leading Carolina.
"We need to try and get as much rest as we can," said Hayes. "We need to make sure we are training hard when we need to and also giving the guys a break when necessary as well. The Ft. Lauderdale game is a huge matchup, and the three games after that are also all massive games because the standings are so tight."
Carolina and Puerto Rico have started to distance themselves from the rest of the league at the top of the standings, but the next five teams are all in a battle for the playoffs and seeding. FC Tampa Bay holds down the third spot with 31 points, but FC Edmonton and NSC Minnesota are just two points behind, while Ft. Lauderdale trails FCTB by only three points. Montreal is six points behind Ft. Lauderdale for the sixth and final playof spot, with all eight teams having six games left in the 2011 regular season.