ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (December 7, 2018) — Former Tampa Bay Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella could pick up his second league title Saturday night in Atlanta when his Portland Timbers take on Atlanta United in MLS Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
If Attinella is in net (he’s Portland’s regular starter when healthy) and the score is deadlocked after 120 minutes against Atlanta’s high-powered offense, Timbers fans should like their chances.
Attinella seems to have a knack for penalty shootouts dating back to when he saved three of four penalties taken by the Minnesota Stars in the second leg of the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl at Al Lang Stadium. His third save ended the match, igniting a huge celebration for the Pinellas County native.
“It was a pretty crazy game,” Attinella said in a recent interview with Ron DeMarse on the 6yd Box podcast. “We tied up the aggregate with five or so minutes left in the game. We were hosting in Tampa (Bay) so I had tons of friends and family there and I was able to save I think three out of the four penalties. I got the save to win it. As a goalie, those are the types on moments you dream of.”
If not for Attinella’s penalty kick shootout heroics last month, Portland may not have even reached MLS Cup. After a wild two-legged tie against the rival Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Semifinal finished 4-4 on aggregate, Attinella made a crucial save to deny Ozzie Alonso in the penalty shootout and help the Timbers advance.
He then made seven saves over two legs in the Western Conference Championship to beat Sporting Kansas City 3-2 on aggregate.
Though it’s now been six years since Attinella played for the Rowdies, he still remembers his time at Al Lang fondly and credits it for the career success he’s gone on to find.
“I knew the people at the Rowdies,” he told Timbers.com recently. “In college, I had trained with them, a lot. We scrimmaged them in college, too, and I had played really well. So, I knew that was a phone call I could make, where at the very least I could have gotten a trial, being a hometown guy, especially since the college is right down the street.
“For me, (signing with the Rowdies) was the best thing that could have happened,” he said. “It got me games. It got me comfortable. It was a stepping stone up to MLS. It was a good thing to bridge that gap, and it got me the games at a professional level that I needed.”