TAMPA — Coming off a disappointing 3-1 loss in Carolina on Saturday, FC Tampa Bay coach Ricky Hill gave his players Monday and Tuesday off before regrouping for the first practice of the week Wednesday.
With the third loss in six weeks to the RailHawks, Tampa Bay (3-5-4, 12 points) fell 14 points behind the NASL's first-place team.
Before Wednesday's practice, Hill told he team to put those disappointments out of its mind. He told his players to look at the remaining slate as a 16-game season.
"What's happened in the past is in the past," Hill said. "It's gone. You can't affect that. We can only go on from here. It's not over. We're not even halfway through the season."
Tampa Bay, off until June 29 at Fort Lauderdale, has lost three of four, including two to Carolina. But Hills is more disappointed in coming out of those contests with no points. He said he believed the club's play warranted more.
In the home loss to Carolina on June 4, a controversial penalty gave the RailHawks their first goal. Saturday, Tampa Bay scored first but couldn't put them away.
"When we scored, the dynamics changed," Hill said. "Our mistakes enabled them to get back in the game. They had to work everything to get back into it. We let them back into it. We couldn't change up. We didn't know how to play from ahead."
Rodrigues' return on the horizon
Defender J.P. Rodrigues, who was injured May 31 at Edmonton, participated in his first full practice after having arthroscopic knee surgery and is eying the Fort Lauderdale game for his return.
"I'm going through as much as my knee will allow," Rodrigues said. "So far, no pain, no swelling. It feels great. I'm just a little out of breath. It will take a couple of training sessions to get back into shape, but I'll be good to go. I'm hoping to play 90 minutes in that game."
During Wednesday's practice, Rodrigues looked quick with the ball and made some nice runs during short field drills. The rest might have done him well. He hasn't had much of a break, playing for Miami last season then Milwaukee in the winter's Major Indoor Soccer League.
"It's almost like I haven't skipped a beat," he said. "I felt better on the ball a little bit. It almost feels like the two and a half weeks have been a rest for my body. I think my legs and body are ready for the long run."
Kickin' it with | Defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe
Was it a surprise for you when the Fire put you on loan?
They kind of saw they didn't see me in their plans at the moment, which is fine. A loan is definitely a good opportunity because you're not wasting a year on the bench. In order to improve you've got to get games. Everyone wants to get first-team football minutes.
How much do you follow what's going on in Chicago?
I always do. My roommate was (Fire GK) Sean Johnson. We talk at least two to three times a week. The whole team, we're all friends. No matter where you go in soccer, you're going to know somebody. It's a small fraternity. Soccer is my life so I keep in touch with everybody.
What would be on your iPod right now?
R and B & Hip Hop. I listen to a lot of R and B before games to help me relax. I also listen to motivational stuff. It allows me to look myself in the mirror and see what I can do within myself and focus, because soccer is more mental. People are going to be as athletic and as fast.
How would you describe the gap between D-1 and D-2 soccer in the US?
I think it's the speed of play and thinking as well. The players over there are pretty technical as well. Some of our players here are technical too. But it's the one-touch that's different.