Former USF goalkeeper Jeff Attinella pitched a shutout for 45 minutes against English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers on Thursday night in FC Tampa Bay’s surprise 1-0 victory over the foreign visitors.
“It was just a fun opportunity,” Attinella said. “They’re in preseason and we were fortune enough that they came to Tampa. Obviously, we gave them our best. We wanted to come out here and play, not just roll over because of who they are. I felt like we played well, it wasn’t just us sitting back and letting them pound us and us getting a lucky one. We tested them and held our own.”
Attinella was in FC Tampa Bay’s starting lineup, as he has been in every game of his rookie season since taking over the starting role after an injury to the original starter in April.
Attinella made three saves during his 45 minutes in the net, shutting out a side that finished 14th last season in what is widely considered to be the world’s most competitive league. Because the game was an exhibition match, both teams made mass substitutions during the halftime break. Attinella did not return to the field for the second half.
“A game like tonight – hopefully it builds up confidence for us because we know how we can play,” Attinella said. “If we come out and play this way every game that we have, we should have a good run at the end of the season.”
Attinella said he hopes beating an English team will have a positive effect on the Tampa Bay soccer community.
“Hopefully a game like this gains a little more respect, especially for the (North American Soccer League),” Attinella said. “You always kind of hear about it, but we can compete with teams and we proved it tonight. Even if just the Tampa Bay area gets more into soccer, then we’ve done our part.”