FC Tampa Bay has proven to be one of NASL's most difficult teams to score on, allowing a league-best two goals through three games. Now the challenge for coach Ricky Hill is to find ways to increase scoring opportunities and make better use of a limited number of chances. Tampa Bay has scored only one goal, tied for last in the NASL.
"Definitely not creating as much as I'd like to see," Hill said. "Definitely a little careless and reckless at times in the final third."
Tampa Bay altered its lineup Saturday at Montreal, starting Mike Ambersley and Warren Ukah at forward, sliding Pascal Millien into the midfield and using Aaron King as a substitute.
On Wednesday, Hill wasn't ready to name his starters at forward for Saturday's home match against Atlanta but said he would likely go with two, maybe three, players up top.
King, who started at forward the first two games, suffered what Hill called "a knock on his knee" in practice before the Montreal game, perhaps explaining his absence from the starting 11. He has practiced fully this week and is available for Saturday.
Kickin' it with | D Omar Jarun
On your player bio, it lists Kuwait as your birthplace and says you're a member of the Palestinian national team. Talk a little about your background. I was born in Kuwait to a Palestinian father and American mother. I lived in Kuwait until I was 7. In 1991, we fled Kuwait because of the Gulf War. We got into the States with U.S. passports because of my mom. The first seven years of my life, I vaguely remember. I remember a little bit of the bombing and why we had to leave Kuwait.
How were you selected for the Palestinian national team? My grandfather, my dad's father, was born in Palestine. …They contacted me in 2007 about playing for them. I could play for the U.S. through my mom or for Palestine through my dad. …When they came to me, I figured it was a good way to give something back to the Middle East.
What's on your soccer bucket list? No. 1 thing is making the (German) Bundesliga first or second division. I just love the way they play, love the atmosphere. That country is my favorite. …Their level is top notch, and I feel like I could play in that league very well. I was close to getting into it, and it just didn't happen. No. 2, I just want to keep getting better for the Palestinian people. They don't have much hope, much to cheer for. Just try to give them some kind of happiness.
Out of the box
M Jeremy Christie, who continues to rehabilitate his left hip after offseason surgery to repair a labral tear, hopes to meet up with the New Zealand national team in Denver on June 1 when the All Whites take on Mexico in a friendly. On Wednesday, he said he felt like his rehab is progressing ahead of schedule, but wouldn't know for sure until national team trainers can examine him and report back to the surgeon in New Zealand who performed his hip operation during the offseason. Christie, 27, hopes a better-than-expected diagnosis from the national team doctors will let him ramp up his rehab routine and add some on-the-ball training. The club targets a late September return. Tampa Bay's regular-season finale is Sept. 24. The thought is Christie should be available for the postseason if the club qualifies.
A slightly different perspective
The team is offering new seating options, which it hopes will give fans a front-row experience much like sitting courtside at a basketball game. Season tickets are being sold for seats on the field, directly behind the field boards on the side opposite the team benches. Included with the $456 prorated season ticket price tag is in-seat wait service and a seasonlong parking pass. Field seat season tickets — the team is not currently selling the seats for single games — are available starting with the May 7 match vs. Carolina.