Fort Lauderdale CF returned to USL League One action tonight, defeating Orlando City B 2-0 at home to secure its first clean sheet and extend its undefeated run at its home ground to three matches. The team was led to victory by goals from 16-year-old winger Edison Azcona and forward Ricky Lopez-Espin. The matchup at Inter Miami CF Stadium kicked off at 8 p.m. ET and aired live on ESPN+.
Fort Lauderdale’s second head to head of the season against Orlando saw Venezuelan compatriots Christian Makoun and Eduardo Sosa, who missed the team’s previous match, start alongside each other in midfield. The players were previously teammates at Venezuelan top-flight side Zamora F.C. from 2016 to 2018. Fort Lauderdale’s 17-year-old goalkeeper Andre Zuluaga, who is registered as an Inter Miami CF Academy player, also made his second appearance of the season as a member of the starting XI.
It was a quick start to the match, with one shot on target for both teams in the opening minutes, but it was Fort Lauderdale CF who took an early lead in the 5th minute with a goal by Azcona. The winger received the ball from left-back Sami Guediri just inside the left side of the box before scoring with a fantastic right-footed curled shot to give the team a 1-0 lead. It was Azcona’s second strike of the season and Guediri’s first assist for the team.
Fort Lauderdale made its first substitution of the match in the 11th minute, with versatile midfielder Jason Bucknor coming on for the injured Andres Cardenas.
The remaining minutes of the first half were closely contested, with a number of dangerous opportunities in front of goal for both sides before going into the break with Fort Lauderdale up 1-0 on the scoreboard.
The hosts started off the second half similarly to the first 45 minutes. Just six minutes after halftime, striker Lopez Espin extended Fort Lauderdale’s lead in the 51st minute. After a swift counterattack, Azcona played a pass for Lopez-Espin inside the box, who controlled the ball with a good first touch prior to rounding the keeper and finishing off the play with a right-footed shot for the team to go up 2-0. It was Lopez-Espin’s sixth goal of the season, who now sits second among USL League One top scorers this season, and Azcona’s first assist of the season.
Fort Lauderdale made four more substitutions in the second half to give the team a new look. First, in the 68th minute with midfielder Blaine Ferri came on for Sosa and forward Jerome Kiesewetter took Lopez-Espin’s place. It was Kiesewetter’s debut for Fort Lauderdale after being loaned out to the team from Inter Miami CF. The home team then made their last two substitutions in the 86th minute, with Academy graduate Francisco Raggio and 15-year-old winger Felipe Valencia replacing Makoun and Azcona.
Fort Lauderdale generated several more chances to threaten Orlando’s backline but in the end the match finished with a 2-0 win for the team.
Fort Lauderdale will return to USL League One action on Saturday, Sept. 19 when the team faces South Georgia Tormenta FC at Inter Miami CF Stadium