Bolton Wanderers have arrived in Florida safe and sound in order to finally kick off their American pre-season tour. The Trotters first match will be against FC Tampa Bay of the North American Soccer League, effectively the second division of US Soccer. Bolton are not only the first English team to play Tampa Bay but any team in the newly established NASL. The match will kick off at 7:30 PM eastern time.
FC Tampa Bay are a brand new squad in only their second year of play. The Tampa Bay team, that originally existed as the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the original North American Soccer League from 1975 to 1984 was reborn alongside the NASL in 2010. FC Tampa Bay play at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. Al Lang is a 7,000 seat repurposed baseball field which is also home to the Dutch and Canadian national baseball teams for spring training. FC Tampa Bay is the only current full time resident.
The American side isn't having the season that they had hoped for. Currently, FC Tampa Bay sit in fifth place, mid table, in the eight team NASL with a record of 4 wins, 6 draws, and 5 losses. They are coming off a hard fought 1-1 draw with Puerto Rico Islanders. The team's leading goalscorer is Mike Ambersley with 7 on the year and the assist leader is Pascal Millien with 4. Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was forced to make his professional debut early in the season after starter Daryl Sattler suffered a season-ending injury. Attinella has since stepped up to become the NASL saves leader with 73.
Bolton released their travel roster yesterday. Hit up last night's post for all the info on who made the trip.
Bolton will hope to start the preseason off right with a win in the sweltering Florida heat while FC Tampa Bay hope to prove that they can run with Premier League big boys. The match will be streamed for free on NASL's Ustream channel with the link becoming available just prior to the match. Keep an eye on the @BoltonOffside Twitter feed on Thursday night where Matilda and I will have up to the minute information, news, analysis, and of course, rubbish.