FC Tampa Bay clinched the third seed in the NASL playoffs with a 2-0 victory over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in the regular season finale.
FC Tampa Bay hosts its first-ever postseason match next Saturday, October 1 at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. FC Tampa Bay will face NSC Minnesota in a one-game single-elimination NASL quarterfinal. Fort Lauderdale will face FC Edmonton in the other quarterfinal. The winners of both matches advance to the NASL semifinals, which begin the following weekend. For more information on the playoffs, click here.
"It was important for us to get three points tonight heading into the playoffs," said head coach Ricky Hill. "I think it was a great accomplishment to finish third in the standings, considering how we started as a new team, and the players throughout the season have worked very hard."
FC Tampa Bay struck first when midfielder Keith Savage slotted home his fourth goal of the season off an assist from midfielder Shane Hill in the 68th minute. Hill sent a 20-yard cross from the right side to Savage, whose back was to the goal. Savage collected the pass, turned and fired to the right corner past Ft. Lauderdale goalkeeper Matt Glaeser.
"We were pressuring them prior to the goal and I was in the right place at the right time," said Savage. "We needed to be dominant right away following the red card. We had some good possessions, which led to the goal."
Ft. Lauderdale was forced to play a man down after defender Cristian Arrieta was sent off in the 51st minute following a hard tackle.
FC Tampa Bay continued to dominate most of the passing game, solidifying the win with a late goal from forward Matt Clare. In second half injury time, Clare took a flick from forward Mike Ambersley and sent a low-curving shot into the back of the net off of Glaeser’s gloves.
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella notched his fifth shutout of the year, and the team wrapped up the regular season with eight shutouts overall.
The two teams finished the first 45 minutes scoreless. FC Tampa Bay had the best opportunity of the first half when midfielder Mozzi Gyorio's free kick from just outside the box bounced off the left post in the 20th minute.
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango, D JP Rodrigues, D Takuya Yamada, M Tsuyoshi Yoshitake (Pascal Millien 60'), M Shane Hill, M Mozzi Gyorio, M Keith Savage (Jeremy Christie 80'), F Mike Ambersley, F Aaron King (Matt Clare 69')
Ft. Lauderdale Lineup: GK Matt Glaeser, D Cristian Quiñones (Adam West 69'), D Lance Laing, D Cristian Arrieta, D Martyn Lancaster, M Leopoldo Morales (Scott Gordon 55'), M Wellington Paeckart, M Mike Palacio, F Abe Thompson - Captain (David Santamaria 45'), F Walter Restrepo, F Brian Shriver
FCTB: Keith Savage - 68th minute (assisted by Shane Hill)
FCTB: Matt Clare - 90+ minute (assisted by Mike Ambersley)
FCTB: Aaron King - 58th minute
FTL: Cristian Arrieta - 51st minute
FCTB: 14 shots (8 shots on goal), 4 saves, 12 fouls, 4 offsides, 6 corners
FTL: 10 shots (4 shots on goal), 6 saves, 8 fouls, 2 offsides, 2 corners