Tampa Bay Mutiny 2001
2001 Club by Club
It didn’t look like 2001 would go much differently. With the second overall pick in the SuperDraft, Tampa Bay seemed to be bringing in even more firepower in Ali Curtis, a former Hermann Trophy winner with Duke. Three games into the 2001 season, the Mutiny were 2-1-0 with two victories on the road, and looked set to make yet another appearance in the playoffs.
As it turned out, those first three games were a flash in the pan. After a come-from-behind 3-1 win over the MetroStars on April 21, the Mutiny wouldn’t win another game until June 23. Faced with the worst slump in team history, Tampa Bay fired head coach Alfonso Mondelo and replaced him with former NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies star Perry Van Der Beck, but the new coach was only able to squeeze one more win out of the Mutiny en route to a 4-21-2 season.
Off the field, Tampa Bay had a similarly bright start to their season, renewing their lease to stay at Raymond James Stadium – home of the NFL Buccaneers – for up to five more years. But even with their stadium situation settled, the club’s fortunes wouldn’t improve. Perhaps fittingly, the Mutiny’s worst season in their history was swiftly followed by the announcement in January 2002 that MLS was contracting the team after a failed search to find an owner for the 1996 Supporters’ Shield winners.
"We needed an owner in Tampa," MLS Commissioner Don Garber told the St. Petersburg Times. "We spent an enormous amount of time trying to find that owner."
Initially, the league held the door open for the team’s return if the club could both find an owner and negotiate a deal for a soccer-specific stadium. But to this day, the team that first brought the league players like Carlos Valderrama, Mamadou Diallo, Frankie Hejduk and Steve Ralston remains dormant.