FC Tampa Bay and the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers played to a 1-1 tie Wednesday night at Lockhart Stadium.
The Strikers salvaged a point and extended their unbeaten streak to seven matches when midfielder Eduardo Coudet put a free kick just inside the post in second half stoppage time.
"It is important that we stay mentally strong throughout the duration of the game," said FC Tampa Bay head coach Ricky Hill. "Give credit to their player, who got it over the wall at a crucial time and into the net. I am disappointed in that we managed to withstand an enormous amount of pressure, and then we find ourselves with the free kick against us and they score the equalizer."
FCTB forward Mike Ambersley gave the team a 1-0 lead in the 68th minute thanks to a perfect pass from Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, who put Ambersley one on one with goalkeeper Matt Glaeser. Ambersley chipped it over Glaeser for his team-high sixth goal of the season, including his fourth in the last four matches.
"If our players can rewind that goal and put it in their memory bank, maybe they can see how effective two-touch football can be," said Hill. "We have a good positive run, and Mike makes a fantastic play to finish. But unfortunately tonight we lacked consistency and didn't take advantage of several other good counter-attacking opportunities."
The two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first 45 minutes, with the Strikers holding a 14-5 advantage in shots in the opening half. FC Tampa Bay rookie goalkeeper Jeff Attinella kept the match tied with four saves in the first half as the Strikers had several opportunities to take the lead. Forward Warren Ukah had the best chance for FC Tampa Bay in the final minutes of the half, but his header was saved by Glaeser just before the break.
Both teams had scoring chances early in the second half. Midfielder Takuya Yamada received a ball from Yoshitake after some excellent passing from FCTB, but Yamada's shot went just wide of the post in the 57th minute. For the Strikers, both Coudet and Abe Thompson had opportunities to break the scoreless tie in the 63rd minute, but Coudet hit the crossbar and Thompson was stopped by a Tampa defender.
"We got a point on the road but it feels like a loss right now because we were so close to earning three points," said Hill. "We can play better as a team, and I expect us to play better."
The two teams will meet once again this Monday, July 4th at 6:00 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium as part of Light Up The Bay 7.4 presented by Budweiser. Tradition. Fireworks. Rivalry.
"We are hoping to play a more complete game on Monday," said Hill. "We welcome them and we welcome the rivalry."
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango, D Kwame Watson-Siriboe, D JP Rodrigues, M Keith Savage, M Takuya Yamada, M Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, M Pascal Millien (Shane Hill 75'), F Mike Ambersley, F Warren Ukah
Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Lineup: GK Matt Glaeser, D Lance Laing (Adam West 64'), D Aaron Hohlbein (David Santamaria 79'), D Christian Arrieta, D Martyn Lancaster, M Paulo Henrique LePetit, M Lennon Eduardo Carvalho Celestino (Grant Kerr 83'), M Brian Shriver, M Martin Nunez, M Eduardo Coudet, F Abe Thompson
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 68th minute (assisted by Tsuyoshi Yoshitake)
FTL: Eduardo Coudet - 90th+ minute
FCTB: Tsuyoshi Yoshitake - 77th minute
FTL: Lennon Eduardo Carvalho Celestino - 83rd minute
FCTB: 7 shots (2 shots on goal), 5 saves, 14 fouls, 3 corners
FTL: 24 shots (6 shots on goal), 1 saves, 6 fouls, 9 corners