As FC Tampa Bay embarks on a four-game road trip, its longest stretch away from Al Lang Field this season, it does so with a slightly less healthy lineup than in recent weeks. A couple of key performers aggravated nagging injuries in Saturday's 2-1 loss to Puerto Rico, calling into question their availability for the next match, against Fort Lauderdale. M Pascal Millien tweaked a hamstring in the second half and was substituted for in the 86th minute. Millien practiced for the first time this week Wednesday. His status for Saturday is uncertain.
"He's day-to-day, but it was heartening that he was there (Wednesday) through a full training session," coach Ricky Hill said.
M Shane Hill was dealing with a hamstring issue entering the Puerto Rico game and limped off the field in the 77th minute. He trained with the team Wednesday. His status for Saturday is also uncertain.
"We don't know if he'll have a reaction to training (today)," Ricky Hill said.
D Andres Arango (thigh) played the first half against Puerto Rico. He hasn't been held out of practice this week and is a near certainty to play Saturday.
F Matt Clare (knee), who was unavailable for the Puerto Rico match, has also been in full training this week and will be good to go this weekend.
The team will need all hands for its final playoff push. Just three points separate third-place Tampa Bay (31) from sixth-place Fort Lauderdale (28), with six games remaining in the regular season.
Six of the eight NASL teams make the playoffs.
"There's no room to take your foot off the gas," Ricky Hill said. "I think the players that we have are not that type of player anyway."
Kickin' it with | Defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe
The California native and UConn alum talks college soccer, natural disasters and playing in the EPL.
You and teammate Jeff Attinella (USF) played at Big East schools. Did you two ever go head-to-head?
"Yeah, I think I'm about 5-0, maybe 6-0 versus USF. They never beat us."
Do you bring that up around Attinella?
"On Tuesday, I was at the USF and University of Tampa game. I wasn't too impressed with the USF team. I think our squad at UConn could take them. Jeff was at the game, so I definitely let him know."
Growing up in an earthquake-prone area, did you find the hysteria over Tuesday's East Coast earthquake a bit amusing?
"My sister actually goes to Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond. I heard about it on the news, and she was able to call me on Skype and let me know she was all right. … She said it felt like home."
What about the other natural disaster that has people worried currently, Hurricane Irene?
"I've never dealt with a hurricane. … To me, honestly, I'd rather be in an earthquake than a hurricane. I've only seen the disaster and aftermath of a hurricane on TV and the news, so it's kind of hard not to be terrified of it."
Name a goal you'd like to accomplish before your soccer career ends.
"Play for one of the top teams in the world."
Any team in particular?
"Arsenal. I'm a die-hard Arsenal fan ever since they went undefeated in the '90s."
Kicks in the grass
D J.P. Rodrigues, a native of Tampa who played high school soccer at Land O'Lakes, will miss at least two matches after being called up to the Guyana national team for World Cup qualifying.
Rodrigues will be available for selection for Guyana's matches against Bermuda on Sept. 2 and Barbados on Sept. 6. He'll leave for Guyana's team camp Monday.
Rodrigues will make Tampa Bay's game at Fort Lauderdale on Saturday but will miss road dates at Carolina on Sept. 3 and Minnesota on Sept. 6.