TAMPA — Two years ago, midfielder Pascal Millien — a former University of Tampa standout who grew up in Auburndale — was one of the first players the new FC Tampa Bay club signed.
The plan then was to make the speedy player one of the cornerstones of the fledgling franchise. He was a talented, exciting player with local connections that the community could connect with.
But now, with the end of this soccer season following Saturday's 1-0 home playoff to Minnesota, it appears Millien's days with FC Tampa Bay are over.
Millien is now a free agent, and he told the Times that he would like to test the waters and pursue a pro deal in a top-tier league in Europe.
"You're always looking for different challenges," Millien said. "A couple years ago, I was looking for some more experience and I wanted to stay at home. I have two years experience now. Now, I'm just looking forward to showcasing my talent somewhere else. It's been a dream for me since I was a little kid. I always wanted to play professionally in Europe. I think now is the right time."
FC Tampa Bay owner and team president Andrew Nestor said the club tried to sign Millien to a long-term deal before this season, but Millien wanted to play the season out. Millien met with the team's front office Tuesday and expressed his desire to pursue other options.
The Haitian-born Millien had a breakout season in 2011, being named to the NASL's Best XI team. His 13 points (four goals, five assists) were third on the team and his five assists ranked second for the club and fifth in the league.
He was named the NASL offensive player of the week after scoring a goal and two assists in a July 4 win over Fort Lauderdale. He nursed several injuries this season, but he was also the only FC Tampa Bay player in 2010 to play in all 30 games.
In other team moves, the club picked up the 2012 options on defender Takuya Yamada and Matt Clare, while declining options for forward Aaron King. The club is in discussions with King on a new deal. King was second on the team in goals (nine) and assists (five).