Since the first few weeks of the regular season, FC Tampa Bay coach Ricky Hill hasn't been working with a healthy roster. On practice days, there aren't enough bodies to play 11 on 11. And every week the number of observers on the sideline begins to grow. When the club opened this week of practice Monday after a 2-1 loss to Carolina on Saturday, just 15 of the 23 players on the roster were healthy and practicing.
There were season-ending ACL injuries to defender Yendry Diaz and goalkeeper Daryl Sattler. Midfielder Jeremy Christie has yet to practice after recovering from hip surgery. Newcomer defenders Omar Jarun and Andres Arango have battled lesser injuries. And midfielder Chad Burt (right foot) and defender JP Rodrigues (right knee) went down May 31 at Edmonton.
"It's not ideal in terms of not knowing how many you're going to have from day to day, and it seems every time we have a game we lose one or two," Hill said.
As FC Tampa Bay (2-4-4, 10 points) faces struggling Atlanta (0-7-2, two points in its return to Division 2 after a two-year hiatus), the team did get some good news.
Burt, initially expected to miss three to six weeks, wore a bulky brace on his foot Monday but was reevaluated this week and is now listed as day to day. Arango, who has nursed ankle and quad injuries, returned to practice Monday. And Rodrigues had successful arthroscopic surgery on his knee and could return by the end of the month.
Long week for captain
While Tampa Bay was on its two-game road trip to Minnesota and Edmonton, captain Frankie Sanfilippo received word that his 90-year-old grandfather, also named Frankie, had died in his hometown of San Diego.
On June 1 Sanfilippo took a 6 a.m. flight from Edmonton to San Diego, attended his grandfather's funeral and flew back cross-country to arrive Friday afternoon in Tampa.
"It was a pretty hectic week, but it was good to see my family and everybody back in San Diego," Sanfilippo said. "We definitely put some miles on this last week. It was a tough week but we fought through it."
Sanfilippo is the only player on the roster to play every minute of every game (900 minutes).
One good thing: Family was introduced to Sanfilippo's young son, the fourth generation of Frankies in the family.
Keeper to get peek at life at the top
Rookie starting GK Jeff Attinella, a USF and Countryside alum, is scheduled to practice with the U.S. national team today at One Buc Place. The national team is in Tampa preparing for its CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Panama on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.
Kickin' it with | Defender/assistant coach David Hayes
When you signed on to exclusively be an assistant coach here, would you have ever thought you would have played 720 minutes by the first week of June?
At this point (age 35), I've been in the game so long to realize that anything is possible. If you told me that then, I'd probably say you were crazy because of the guys we have here. But with all the injuries I've had to be prepared just like anyone.
What's the key to having a long, successful career in Division 2 soccer?
Basically it's taking it seriously. A lot of people look at it as a stepping stone to get to the higher level. For me, MLS is getting better but there's not a huge gap. So I'm happy here.
What's on your iPod right now?
Probably kids' music, probably Mickey Mouse or Tinga Tinga (Tales) or Dora the Explorer. My kids are always with me, so I'm always living the dream.
Some of your best years were playing in Atlanta. You play them this week. What's that going to be like?
Atlanta was great. That's where I met my wife. That's where I had my kids. All the guys I played with there are great guys. When we play them I don't like them. When we don't play them, I don't mind calling them and saying good luck.
So you might not talk to them this week?
I will not talk to them this week. In fact, I might send them some rotten emails.