FC Tampa Bay lost to the Puerto Rico Islanders 1-0 Wednesday night at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon. With the victory, the Islanders completed an unbeaten regular season at home, the only team in the league to do so this season.
FC Tampa Bay will now face Ft. Lauderdale this Saturday, September 24 at Al Lang Stadium with the third seed in the NASL playoffs on the line. A win or tie by FCTB against the Strikers would clinch the third seed in the postseason, which opens on Saturday, October 1 at Al Lang at 7:30 p.m. in the NASL quarterfinals.
"I would expect our boys to be up for the challenge on Saturday night against the Strikers," said FC Tampa Bay head coach Ricky Hill. "We are frustrated and disappointed with the result tonight and would like to head into the playoffs on a winning frame of mind."
Puerto Rico took a 1-0 lead on a goal by forward Yaikel Perez in the fifth minute, his first of the year, off a nice feed down the left side from midfielder Kevon Villaroel.
Midfielder Shane Hill almost scored the equalizer, but his 35-yard strike hit the post in the 30th minute. Forward Mike Ambersley and midfielders Chad Burt, Mozzi Gyorio and Keith Savage also had scoring chances in the first 45 minutes for FC Tampa Bay against Islanders goalkeeper Ray Burse, who made five saves in the first half.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the second half but Burse and FC Tampa Bay goalkeeper Jeff Attinella kept the ball out of the net. For the match, FC Tampa Bay outshot the Islanders 18-12, led by Gyorio's four shots.
"It seems like a recurring theme when you consider the number of chances we had Saturday night against Minnesota," said Hill. "We did manage to carve out a few openings and get a few shots on target tonight. But it was disappointing to give up the goal early, which ended up being the game-winner."
FC Tampa Bay made the trip to Puerto Rico without several starters, including captain and defender Frankie Sanfilippo, defender Andres Arango and midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake.
Don't forget that tickets are on sale now for FC Tampa Bay's 2011 home playoff games, with all reserved and general admission tickets priced at just $12 in advance. For more information, click here.
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D David Hayes (Captain), D Jeremy Christie, D JP Rodrigues, D Takuya Yamada, M Chad Burt (Kerry Baptiste 87'), M Mozzi Gyorio, M Shane Hill, M Keith Savage (Pascal Millien 65'), F Mike Ambersley, F Aaron King
Puerto Rico Lineup: GK Ray Burse, D Alexis Rivera, D Richard Martinez, D Logan Emory, D Scott Jones, M Aaron Pitchkolan (Captain), M Jarad Van Schaik (Joseph Salem 53'), M Tyler Wilson (Hector Ramos 81'), M Kevon Villaroel, F Yaikel Perez (Petter Villegas 70'), F Jonathan Fana
PR: Yaikel Perez - 5th minute (assisted by Kevin Villaroel)
FCTB: JP Rodrigues - 62nd minute
FCTB: 18 shots (7 on goal), 4 fouls, 3 saves, 7 corners, 4 offsides
PR: 12 shots (4 on goal), 14 fouls, 7 saves, 3 corners, 3 offsides