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Andres Arango's arrival gives FC Tampa Bay defensive options

TAMPA — Defender Andres Arango, in his first season with FC Tampa Bay, will be available for the first time Saturday at Montreal. Arango served a two-game suspension stemming from a red card he received during a playoff loss while with Minnesota in 2010. Last week, coach Ricky Hill hinted Tampa Bay might switch from its 4-4-2 formation to a three-defender back line once Arango returned. Tuesday, however, Hill said he likely will remain with four in the back for the time being. "I'm looking at the couple of games that we have played and the little areas where I've felt we've been susceptible to counter attacking," said Hill, left. "From what I've seen in the last game in particular, I think we're better off possibly playing with the four (in the back), which denies teams the opportunity to play balls down the sides of our center halves and, consequently, making us turn and chase backward toward our own goal." Hill did not commit to starting Arango on Saturday but said he brings a number of intangibles: "Maturity, quality, performance, leadership, all the things that are vital ingredients for players and intelligence as well."

Kickin' it with F Aaron King

You're from Denver. Is it harder to train in Colorado's altitude or Florida's heat and humidity?

It's almost similar. I'll train my tail off at altitude, and altitude training is great. But then you come here and have the humidity, so you can barely breathe. It almost cancels out. And then you come from this thicker air to the thin air at altitude, it takes a couple weeks. I feel like if you're altitude trained, your fitness level is going to be a lot better.

Last season, you scored a team-high 12 goals for FC Tampa Bay, third most in the league. Do you have a favorite goal from your career?

Scoring that first goal on a penalty kick in our first home game last year for the franchise was amazing. It was so loud and electric once I scored. Just a good experience to let everyone know the (team) was back.

A lot of players in the NASL view the Montreal road trip as the best in the league. Do you have a favorite?

I'm on that Montreal bandwagon. The field is great. The atmosphere is amazing. A lot of the guys are excited to get out there, get on some nice, beautiful grass.

How do you prepare for a match?

Through imagery. I'll try to throw on some relaxing music, usually a little Sade, and imagine what I'm going to do, whether it be scoring a goal or tracking back on defense or setting up a goal or whatever.

If you weren't a soccer player, what would you be doing?

I want to be a sports psychologist. The mental aspect is the most important in any sport, I feel like. I've got one semester left (for a bachelor's) degree. And then, obviously, I'd have to go to grad school, hopefully get into coaching after soccer and go to school at the same time."

Out of the box

New NASL commissioner David Downs took in Tampa Bay's 2-0 home loss to Puerto Rico on Sunday. Downs, who was appointed March 28, is making the rounds to all eight franchises, and Tampa Bay was the second stop.

So how did the commissioner like Al Lang Field?

"I thought the venue converted very nicely from its original purpose as a baseball stadium to hosting the match," he said. "I'm told that it does a better job of that than, perhaps, last year where FC Tampa Bay played (Tampa's Steinbrenner Field).

"I thought the fan atmosphere was wonderful. I was really impressed with some of the outfits on some of the hard core supporters. And I loved the little berm area."

Downs saw positives and negatives on the long-term use of Al Lang.

"Obviously, once the grass becomes seamlessly meshed between the patches and the old infield grass and the outfield grass, it will be better," he said. "Visually, from a camera perspective, I don't love the fact that there's an empty portion of the outfield behind the players' benches. (The stadium) seemed very, very appropriate for the size of the crowds and the crowds that we would expect over time.

"I think it's nice. I met the mayor of St. Pete (Bill Foster), and he seemed very gung ho about the team playing there. (The distance) didn't seem to bother some of the fans I talked to who had made the trip from across the bay in Tampa."

Up next

FC Tampa Bay at Montreal

When/where: 2:30 p.m. Saturday; Saputo Stadium

Next home game: vs. Atlanta, 7 p.m. April 30

Tickets: fctampabay.com, (813) 287-1539

Andres Arango's arrival gives FC Tampa Bay defensive options 04/20/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2011 10:59am]

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