FC Tampa Bay departs Friday for its longest — and most critical — road trip of the season, a 10-day stretch that will include games at Carolina, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. M Shane Hill (hamstring) and D J.P. Rodrigues (abdominal strain) didn't practice Tuesday, and the team was off Wednesday, leaving today as the travel roster decision day.
M Pascal Millien, who didn't play in Saturday's 2-0 win over Fort Lauderdale and is nursing hamstring and Achilles' injuries, practiced Tuesday but remains uncertain.
"It's hard because you'd like to know as quick as you can who is fit and able and who you can take in the road," FCTB coach Ricky Hill said. "If we can establish the probables, definites and not likely at alls, that would be ideal. At the moment we seem to be a bit in a cloud as far as who will be able to participate."
Rodrigues was in transit to join the Guyana National Team for World Cup qualifying Monday when he felt pain in his abdomen and decided to return to Tampa for treatment. He likely won't join the team on the road trip but plans to rehab and be ready for the club's return home.
Kicks in the grass
GK Jeff Attinella was named the NASL defensive player of the week after logging his fourth shutout of the season Saturday vs. Fort Lauderdale. Attinella and Ambersley are among the finalists for the NASL player of the month for August. … The club signed 25-year-old D Daniel Scott, who most recently captained the USL PDL champion Kitsap Pumas. Scott was a 2011 All-League and All-Western Conference selection. He will provide immediate back row depth. … The city of St. Petersburg is holding a rally for FCTB and the Rays' playoff pushes on Friday from 5-7 p.m. downtown on Central Avenue between Second and Third Street N. There will be giveaways and live entertainment.
FC Tampa Bay will be without leading scorer Mike Ambersley this week at Carolina as he serves a one-game suspension for receiving his fifth yellow card of the year. Ambersley was carded for excessive celebration following his goal in the 77th minute to seal Saturday's 2-0 win over Fort Lauderdale.
After beating Strikers keeper Matt Glaeser for a loose ball, he scored past a covering defender and ran toward the corner to celebrate. A drumstick was flung from the stands and nearly hit Ambersley on a bounce. Ambersley picked up the drumstick, tapped the flag with it and tossed it into the air.
"I asked the referee how it could have been excessive celebration if something was thrown from the stands, but he still gave me a yellow," Ambersley said. "I shouldn't have done it, but it was in the heat of the moment."
Kickin' it with MF Jeremy Christie
The FC Tampa Bay midfielder made a name for himself last season by playing in the World Cup for New Zealand. After missing the entire season recovering from offseason hip surgery, he hopes to return soon.
Q. How much do people still talk to you about the World Cup? A. Not enough. No, but really it's something I'm very proud of but it's something in the past now. I'm just looking forward to the playoffs and helping FC Tampa Bay win a championship.
Q. Back in New Zealand, is there a rivalry between soccer and rugby? A. Not really. Rugby is by far and away the No. 1 sport in New Zealand. I think all the soccer players grew up supporting the All Blacks. I've been getting up early the last couple weekends to watch them play in the Tri-Nations games. They support us, too. Maybe sometimes the media there tries to play up a rivalry, like last year during the World Cup, but to the players that's not true.
Q. What do you do away from the pitch? A. I play golf. I actually played a couple of weeks ago with some of the boys. (MF Keith Savage) beat me by about 20 shots. I haven't been back since. Keith is really good. Normally I hit in the mid 80's, he shot like a 77. Last time I play with him.