Monday, December 11, 2017
Sports

Restrepo, Fontein vie for Rowdies' starting job

ST. PETERSBURG — The final in-game image from Tampa Bay's 2012 championship season — the first title for the reincarnated Rowdies and second overall for the franchise — saw goalkeeper Jeff Attinella dive to his left to block a penalty kick from Minnesota's Lucas Rodriguez, setting off a raucous celebration at sold-out Al Lang Stadium.

Attinella, a bay area soccer product born in Clearwater, trained at USF and later named to the NASL's Best XI, turned away three shots in that shootout against the Stars and was, perhaps, the deciding factor behind the Rowdies' historic season.

When Tampa Bay begins its title defense tonight, at home against Carolina, Attinella and his familiar orange-and-black goalkeeper shirt, inspired by Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, will be absent. The 24-year-old signed with MLS' Real Salt Lake during the offseason.

In his place, the Rowdies turn to two promising contenders: Andrew Fontein, a familiar yet inexperienced face as last year's backup to Attinella, and Diego Restrepo, a wild card with an interesting pedigree who was added late.

"There's not a great deal between them right now. They're both quality in their own way," coach Ricky Hill said. "They both have different strengths, so it's just a matter of who is on that basic, consistent form that will earn the right to start."

The Rowdies, minus only Attinella and J.P. Rodrigues, are intact from the 11 players who started that late-October final against the Stars. The expectation, then, is for the Rowdies to contend for the title again, so long as Fontein and Restrepo can collectively match Attinella's production between the posts.

"It's a little different knowing that I'm going to be playing in the games," said Fontein, 23. "It puts more pressure on you, but it keeps you focused. I've been enjoying it so far."

Fontein didn't play a minute with the Rowdies last year during his first professional season but showed enough ability during training to keep the team from panicking at Attinella's departure.

"The games we play behind closed doors and small-sided games, it wasn't as if Jeff was way above Andrew and Andrew was a weakness and a weak link so that his team would lose," Hill said. "On most occasions in fact, Andrew's team won over the balance of the season. So it shows that he was very adept and a good keeper."

Restrepo, who was born in Venezuela, signed with the Rowdies on March 20 after finishing the season as the first-team starter for Venezuelan side Deportivo Tachira. Restrepo, who also saw action in his pro rookie season for Colombian powerhouse America de Cali, started for USF as a freshman but was passed over for Attinella the following year and decided to transfer to Virginia, where he sparked the Cavaliers' 2009 NCAA title run.

"One thing I learned about playing in South America is that you don't worry about the extra things, you just try to do your own job and make it tough for the coach," said Restrepo, 25. "I think I've done that here. I think I've played well. It's up to the coach now."

Whomever Hill selects, the challenge for either keeper will be to make Rowdies fans forget Attinella.

Note: The Rowdies acquired midfielder Alex Dixon, 23, on loan from Houston of MLS.

.fast facts

Roster

No. Name Pos. Ht/Wt Hometown

15 Mike Ambersley F 5-9/155 St. Louis

3 Andres Arango D 6-1/175 Medellin, Colombia

4 Stuart Campbell M 5-10/148 Corby, England

5 Kyle Clinton M 6-4/180 Safety Harbor

25 Carl Cort F 6-4/172 London

9 Raphael Cox M 5-7/150 Tacoma, Wash.

21 Devin Del Do F 5-9/155 Valencia, Calif.

23 Alex Dixon M 5-8/150 Bay City, Texas

1 Andrew Fontein GK 6-1/190 Las Vegas

20 Evans Frimpong F/M 5-8/142 Accra, Ghana

6 Jordan Gafa D 5-10/165 San Diego

11 Shane Hill M 6-1/185 London

10 Georgi Hristov F 6-0/65 Plovdiv, Bulgaria

8 Luke Mulholland M 5-9/150 Preston, England

18 Jay Needham D 6-2/185 Fort Worth, Texas

24 Diego Restrepo GK 6-0/185 Merida, Venezuela

7 Frankie Sanfilippo D 5-10/165 San Diego

22 Keith Savage M 6-2/170 Gulf Breeze

2 Daniel Scott D 6-1/185 Maui, Hawaii

16 Amani Walker F 6-2/190 San Diego

14 Draymond Washington D 6-1/180 Potomac, Md.

32 Takuya Yamada D 5-11/180 Tokyo

Comments
How bad are Florida State’s football facilities?

How bad are Florida State’s football facilities?

As Jimbo Fisher was leaving Florida State for Texas A&M, an administrative commitment to facilities was one reason why.So how bad are the Seminoles' facilities, really?No. 12 in the country, according to 247Sports.That's better than Miami (...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

UPDATE, 10:30: In addition to the Cardinals, the Rockies and Mets are considered hot in pursuit of Rays closer Alex Colome. …. Keep hearing the Angels as a potential landing spot for 3B Evan Longoria if the Rays deal him. … Rays manager K...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash was first up in the media room at the winter meetings today and here are a few up the more interesting things he said:* On trade speculation regarding their veterans such as Chris Archer and Evan Longoria: "I know there is a l...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Explosives? On 40-yard plays, Bucs among NFL’s worst

Explosives? On 40-yard plays, Bucs among NFL’s worst

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has key statistics that he puts great value in, finding a close correlation between success in those areas and success on the scoreboard. Winning the takeaway battle is always first among those priorities, but he and his staff...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Do Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter get along?

Rick and Tom podcast: Do Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter get along?

The Bucs guarantee another losing season after turning the ball over five times in a 24-21 loss to the Lions. In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones talk about how the Bucs stayed in the game until the end despite a non-existent pass rush...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria considers his future with the Rays "somewhere in limbo" based on speculation he could be traded as part of a cost-cutting and rebuilding movement."I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria told the Tampa Ba...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The Jameis Winston-Dirk Koetter relationship: It’s complicated

The Jameis Winston-Dirk Koetter relationship: It’s complicated

  TAMPA — There are lies, damn lies and statistics, none of which are working in favor of Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter avoiding a split in the near future. Even before the Bucs turned the football over five times and lost to the Detroit Li...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Report: Jameis Winston-Dirk Koetter relationship ‘is not in a good place’

Report: Jameis Winston-Dirk Koetter relationship ‘is not in a good place’

Jameis Winston is displeased with how coach Dirk Koetter has handled Winston's shoulder injury and the Bucs offense, according to an NFL Network report Sunday. “The relationship between quarterback Jameis Winston and Koetter is not in a good p...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Jones: Why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter won’t survive this

Jones: Why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter won’t survive this

  TAMPA — Dirk Koetter isn’t going to return as coach of the Bucs next season. That’s not official. No announcement has been made. No press conference is scheduled. It’s not an absolute fact. Not yet. And this isn’t a...
Updated: 5 hours ago