The end of the season came suddenly last Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium as FC Tampa Bay dropped a tough 1-0 decision to NSC Minnesota in the NASL quarterfinals, despite going undefeated in four matches against the Stars in the regular season.
Moving forward, the club can look back on an exciting 2011 season that saw the team earn its first-ever playoff berth and finish in third place overall in the regular season. Plans are already underway for an even better 2012.
With the season complete, FC Tampa Bay has been busy with player meetings, exit physicals and evaluations of the season. The club has already begun making important roster decisions for the 2012 season.
On Tuesday, the organization exercised contract options for forward Mike Ambersley, goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, defender Frankie Sanfilippo and midfielder Keith Savage, ensuring their return for the 2012 season.
Ambersley led FC Tampa Bay in every major offensive category in his first season with the club, pacing the team in goals (11), assists (7), points (29), shots (70) and minutes (2,275). He was named one of two forwards on the NASL Best XI team as he ranked tied for third in the NASL with his 11 goals and third in the league with the seven assists.
Attinella, in his rookie season after an outstanding career at the University of South Florida, posted a club-record five shutouts in 22 starts. Attinella, who played locally at Clearwater’s Countryside High School, will enter his second professional season as the club’s starting goalkeeper.
Sanfilippo, the team’s captain in his first year with the organization and a perennial all-star defender, started in 25 regular season matches and ranked second on the team with 2,250 minutes played while adding one goal and two assists.
Savage recently completed his first season with FCTB and saw action in 26 games, third-most on the team, and his four goals, including two game-winners, ranked tied for third on the club.
The players join defender Andres Arango, midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake and defender JP Rodrigues, who were all already signed for the 2012 campaign. Arango and Rodrigues combined to start 41 matches in the back, and Yoshitake played in 25 games with 18 starts, primarily as a midfielder. Yoshitake added three assists to rank fourth on the team.
In addition, the team declined 2012 contract options for midfielder Chad Burt, defender Yendry Diaz and forward Warren Ukah, making them all free agents. Goalkeeper Daryl Sattler is also now a free agent after his contract expired with the end of the season. FCTB does not plan to make a contract offer to Sattler.
Goalkeeper Evan Newton (Houston Dynamo) and defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Chicago Fire) are both headed back to their respective Major League Soccer clubs following the expiration of their loans to FCTB. FC Tampa Bay also met with defender Daniel Scott yesterday and is exploring contract possibilities for the 2012 season.
Stay tuned for more roster updates here at fctampabay.com.