Through six regular-season games, FC Tampa Bay has played well enough in spurts to suggest the team is capable of making a deep run in the North American Soccer League postseason. What the team lacks, however, is consistency, a point coach Ricky Hill reiterated in practice this week. Tampa Bay has yet to put together a full 90-minute performance of late, coming closest on the road in a 0-0 game on April 23 against Montreal when the team had "75, 80 minutes of quality play," according to Hill.
"We've looked okay to a certain degree without having that cutting edge that I would like us to somehow find and develop," Hill said. "And likewise, we've also looked a little bit fragile at times when teams have played directly against us and we have to just clear our lines and dig in and defend."
Case in point: Last week's 1-1 tie with Edmonton that could have been a victory and three points if not for a stoppage-time equalizer.
"Teams have come and upset us a little bit and worried us into making a couple mistakes, elementary mistakes that we shouldn't have done," Hill said.
Starting D Andres Arango reinjured the right ankle that kept him out of the team's past two games, and his status is uncertain for Saturday, when Tampa Bay hosts Montreal for the second time this year.
Arango was participating in his first full training session Tuesday when he rolled the ankle that he first injured two weeks ago.
Arango has appeared in just two of six games, having been suspended for the first two contests because of a red card he obtained in last year's season finale while playing for Minnesota.
"He practiced well for the first 45 minutes," coach Ricky Hill said. "It was great to have him back in and looking okay. … We'll take it day by day."
Kickin' it with | M Tony McManus
Do you still know a lot of people in Memphis? Is everyone doing okay? (McManus' hometown is Memphis, which has dealt with devastating flooding in recent weeks.)
My whole family lives there in Memphis; all my friends from high school still live there. Fortunately, they're in an area where they're really not being affected by it. It's a bit lucky. Happy for them, praying that everybody else can recover everything they've lost.
Are you a barbecue guy? Where's the best place in Memphis to get it?
People claim that Rendezvous or Corky's are the best, but if you're a true barbecue lover, you stay away from those places. It's the smaller places, the mom-and-pop kind of places. There's a place called Cozy Corner, it's right next to St. Jude's in downtown, and it's some of the best barbecue you'll find in Memphis, easily.
What do you get when you go to Cozy Corner?
A half slab of ribs and some bread. It's money in the bank.
What's your favorite personal soccer moment?
I would say that I've had some pretty exciting times while I was playing in Portland. We played Manchester City (of England's Premier League) last year in a small venue (at the University of Portland). … I think there was about 8,000 people there in a really close, compact space. And it was a great game playing against guys like (Emmanuel) Adebayor and Craig Bellamy and Stephen Ireland, just guys you've seen on TV and you've grown up watching, it was pretty incredible. … I was shocked at how well I did. Sometimes when you play against players of that caliber, sometimes you get yourself up for those. I think I was playing out of my mind for that one.
Out of the box
Coach Ricky Hill made an interesting remark after Tuesday's practice, applauding the fans that traveled to Fort Lauderdale for Saturday's match, which eventually was postponed by inclement weather, and Hill suggested that his players would do well to show the same passion on the field.
"(The fans) were magnificent," Hill said. "They stayed out in the rain and lightning and thunder and were cheering and happy and looking forward to the game. They were a great example of how we should be in terms of our determination to succeed. … We'd like to reward them with some good victories."