FC Tampa Bay dropped a 2-1 decision to the Atlanta Silverbacks Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. The loss snapped FCTB's season-long four-match unbeaten streak, dating back to its previous last setback on June 18 at Carolina.
Assistant coach David Hayes took over the head coaching duties for the second straight match in the absence of head coach Ricky Hill, who did not travel with the team because of a death in the family. FC Tampa Bay played without captain Frankie Sanfilippo, who had played in every minute of the first 16 matches, as well as midfielder Chad Burt (foot). Sanfilippo suffered dehydration symptoms at Thursday’s practice at Shimberg Fields and was hospitalized for observation in Tampa.
"When you miss your captain and a player like Frankie, it is very hard if you can even replace a guy like him," said Hayes. "My heart goes out to him and his family, and the first priority is to make sure he is okay."
The first goal of the match was scored by Junior Sandoval in the seventh minute, with Matt Horth getting the assist for the Silverbacks. It was Sandoval's second goal of the year and Horth's first assist this season.
FC Tampa Bay had a great opportunity in the 22nd minute when midfielder Pascal Millien's shot was deflected by Atlanta goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer and off the crossbar. Forward Mike Ambersley followed with a shot that was blocked and he followed that with a shot that went wide.
Atlanta midfielder Ciaran O'Brien headed in a long throw-in from Tyler Ruthven for his fourth goal of the year and a 2-0 Silverbacks lead in the 41st minute.
"We created our chances, but we were chasing the game from the beginning and that is never good," said Hayes. "You can't give up a goal in the seventh minute and then give up another one."
FC Tampa Bay forward Aaron King responded moments later with a goal in the 43rd minute as his shot deflected off Atlanta defender Mattias Schnorf and into the net. It was King's fifth goal of the year, including his fourth consecutive match with a score.
"I respect King tremendously for fighting through adversity this year and now he is taking advantage of his opportunity," said Hayes. "His hard work and mentality represents what we want on this team."
FC Tampa Bay almost tied the match in the 61st minute when Ambersley put the ball in the net, but he was called for offsides on the play. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the match, second half substitute Tsuyoshi Yoshitake shot the ball towards an open net, but Ruthven headed away the chance to preserve the Silverbacks victory.
"I am proud of the guys that they fought for each other, stuck to the gameplan and never gave up," said Hayes. "I think you saw that with the number of chances we had, and I was very pleased with how they responded throughout the game after falling behind 2-0."
FC Tampa Bay returns to action when it hosts FC Edmonton this Wednesday, July 27 at 7:00 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium.
FC Tampa Bay: GK Jeff Attinella, D Andres Arango (Captain), D Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Takuya Yamada 31'), D JP Rodrigues (Warren Ukah 78'), D Justin Morrow, M Keith Savage, M Mozzi Gyorio, M Pascal Millien, M Shane Hill (Tsuyoshi Yoshitake 76'), F Mike Ambersley, F Aaron King
Atlanta: GK Jimmy Maurer, D Mattias Schnorf, D Willie Hunt, D Tyler Ruthven, D Josh Casarona (Patrick Robertson 82'), M Jordan Davis, M Ciaran O'Brien (Jose Parada 84'), M Raphael Cox, M Lucas Paulini (Captain), F Junior Sandoval (Jon Cox 73'), F Matt Horth
ATL: Junior Sandoval - 7th minute (assisted by Matt Horth)
ATL: Ciaran O'Brien - 41st minute (assisted by Tyler Ruthven)
FCTB: Aaron King - 43rd minute (assisted by Mike Ambersley)
ATL: Josh Casarona - 29th minute
FCTB: Justin Morrow - 45th minute
ATL: Jose Parada - 86th minute
FCTB: Warren Ukah - 90th minute
FCTB: 17 shots, 4 saves, 5 fouls, 7 corners
ATL: 15 shots, 5 saves, 6 fouls, 3 corners