14 W, 18 L
3rd, Eastern Conference
Raymond James Stadium
After a disappointing 1998 season, the Tampa Bay Mutiny’s 1999 campaign didn’t look to be going much differently. Tampa Bay once again came out of the blocks with a resounding thud, dropping their first four games of the season by a combined score of 12-6.
But whereas the Mutiny’s abysmal start had seen Roy Lassiter leave the team in ’98, Tampa Bay’s early-season futility was swiftly followed by the return of former MVP Carlos Valderrama. And it’s perhaps not coincidence that El Pibe’s return sparked a five-game winning streak.
But as suddenly and remarkably as the Mutiny had gotten hot, they just as suddenly and remarkably went ice cold once again, going on five-game losing streak.
The Jekyll and Hyde routine would continue to the very end for Tampa Bay. From late August to early September, the Mutiny would rack up a four-game winning streak before promptly dropping three games in a row again. Despite finishing with a losing record and a goal-differential of -1, however, Tampa Bay would finish third in the Eastern Conference and earn themselves a playoff berth after a year’s absence.
Ultimately, the Mutiny couldn’t break out of their late-season doldrums against the Columbus Crew to advance out of the first round. Columbus swept to a pair of 2-0 victories behind the efforts of lethal strike tandem Stern John and Jeff Cunningham, and Tampa Bay would once again face a long offseason.