Ricky Lopez-Espin vs. FC Tucson (7/25/20)

MATCH RECAP: Fort Lauderdale CF Scores First Goal in Team History, Falls 1-2 to FC Tucson

Fort Lauderdale CF played its second match in team history and fell to a narrow 1-2 defeat to FC Tucson despite a two-man disadvantage for the entire second half. The USL League One match, which kicked off at 7 p.m. ET, also saw the team score the first goal in its history and the first goal by a home team at Inter Miami CF Stadium. 

Fort Lauderdale came out of the gate on the front foot, taking an early 1-0 lead in the eighth minute; an accurately threaded through ball from 17-year-old center back Ian Fray freed right back Brian Rosales down the right wing, who hit a pinpoint cross to forward Ricky Lopez-Espin, who then hit a first-time strike past the keeper for the first goal in team history.

The team continued to control the tempo of the match while limiting danger from the opposition. Tucson first threatened the hosts with a counter in the 23rd minute, but Fray tracked back to snuff out the move with a well-timed tackle in the box.

Consecutive yellow cards in the 25th and 27th minutes saw midfielder Joshua Saavedra sent off, leaving the team with 10 men. The team continued to attack and threaten despite being a man down, pushing forward with a swift counter attacking move in the 40th minute; 16-year-old winger Edison Azcona controlled the ball in midfield, knocking it to Lopez-Espin who hit a long ball down the left wing to free left back Sami Guediri. Guediri controlled the ball and delivered a cross to Lopez-Espin who had made a long run into the box. Lopez-Espin’s header drifted just wide of the frame of goal. 

Consecutive yellow cards were given late in the first half to Fray, reducing the team to nine men just before the break. The team responded by subbing on center back Modesto Mendez to start the second half in place of winger Andres Cardenas.

The team continued to sure up its defensive shape despite the two man disadvantage, bringing on defender Christian Lue Young in place of Lopez-Espin the 56th minute and midfielder Francisco Raggio for Azcona minutes later.

Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira was called into action for the first time in the 61st minute making a reaction save on a header from close range by Tucson. In the 65th minute he comfortably parried away a long range effort from the opposition. Castanheira continued his strong run of form in the 72nd minute, diving low to make a crucial save on a close range strike from Tucson.

FC Tucson continued to push, however, equalizing in the 87th minute through a header from Azaad Liadi. They continued to threaten, eventually securing three points through a 90th minute winner from Adrián Valenzuela.

Fort Lauderdale made its final substitution in the 89th minute, bringing on Jason Bucknor in place of Blaine Ferri.

The match saw manager Jason Kreis on the touchline for Fort Lauderdale after returning from duty with the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team. He coached the match alongside Director of Player Development and interim Manager Darren Powell.

Academy products Fray and Saavedra made their first starts for the team after coming off the bench in the first match. 

Fort Lauderdale CF will return to action on Saturday, August 1st when it travels to face the Richmond Kickers in the team’s first away match.