TAMPA — The season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear in the right knee of FC Tampa Bay goalkeeper Daryl Sattler means Clearwater native Jeff Attinella, a former standout at Countryside High and USF, is elevated to the No. 1 position between the posts.
Attinella made his professional debut in Saturday's 1-1 tie with Atlanta after Sattler went down in the 10th minute. The 22-year-old made three saves and allowed one goal in 80-plus minutes.
Attinella makes his first pro start Saturday at Al Lang Field against Carolina.
"I'm ready for the opportunity," he said. "I don't plan on the level of goal-keeping dropping when I come in. It will probably take a couple games for the team to have full faith in me, but I'm ready for that challenge."
If there's one saving grace for Tampa Bay, it's that Attinella has been in this situation before. As a freshman at USF, he was planning to redshirt, but a late-season injury to the starter forced Attinella into action during a key stretch before the postseason. Attinella performed well, earned his first shutout in a home victory against St. John's and became the full-time starter the next year as a sophomore.
In 61 matches at USF, he posted a 38-14-9 record and a 0.79 goals-allowed average.
"I've always seen him as a very capable, competent keeper," FC Tampa Bay coach Ricky Hill said. "When called upon, he's always played and produced quality moments."
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As a native of St. Louis, what are some must-visit restaurants when you return to your hometown?
The Hill in St. Louis. It's a big Italian community in south St. Louis, and they have some amazing Italian restaurants. Some of my favorite food is Italian food. Pizza-wise, they have a place called Imo's. They have amazing thin-crust pizza. They're known for that for many years.
What do you like about living in Florida?
Obviously the weather is very nice. It's not 100 degrees yet, but I love the weather. Florida's great. You get to go to the beach; the beach is 20-30 minutes away. I have a girlfriend here, and she absolutely loves doing that, so I find myself at the beach quite a bit. I don't tan too well. I can last about two hours and then I need to get out of there.
Best soccer experience?
Probably winning a national championship at Indiana University (2003 and 2004). … That was an amazing experience. They'll never be able to take that away from me. That was probably the most exciting time of my soccer career.
Take us through your game-day preparation.
Nothing really crazy. I eat light before games and listen to music. Kind of just get in my own little zone. I don't really like talking to too many people. The guys on the team know I kind of just sit and think of the game, visualize scoring goals. … I'm not too pleasant on game days. Just try to focus as much as possible and get my mind right.
Out of the box
Goalkeeper Daryl Sattler's injury not only deprives Tampa Bay of one of its best players for the duration of the season, but it leaves the team short-handed, temporarily, at the position. Jeff Attinella is the only other goalkeeper on the roster.
So who gets plugged into emergency duty should Attinella become injured?
"Looking at the players and their characters, I would guess we would have a few candidates," coach Ricky Hill said. "My two I would probably put forward before anyone would be someone like Frankie (Sanfilippo) and J.P. Rodrigues. I guess they would volunteer. I haven't seen them in between the nets."
Hill indicated the team will test a few players in goal at practice before the Carolina game.
"We can probably get a handful of possible candidates and then whittle it down from there as to who looks the most competent at this moment in time. But again, if we play well enough, if we defend well enough as a team … I like to think (goalkeepers) can be passengers at times where we're carrying them. They're not overworked."