Team earns points for second straight road game; Lopez-Espin scores third goal of the season
Fort Lauderdale CF earned points in a second consecutive USL League One match on the road; the team defeated drew 1-1 with Orlando City B at Osceola Heritage Park in Orlando, Fla. The matchup between in-state opponents, the first in the history of USL League One, kicked off at 7 p.m. ET and aired live on ESPN+.
The team made two changes from the starting XI that defeated South Georgia Tormenta FC in its last match, bringing team captain Servando Carrasco back into the fold alongside 17-year-old Academy graduate Ian Fray, who returned from a one-match red card suspension. They replaced Francisco Raggio and Christian Lue Young respectively.
Just minutes after the match got started it stopped again as the teams had to step off the field in the 11th minute for a weather delay. The players returned to the field and resumed play just over two hours later.
It was Orlando who would put pressure on goal in the early stages following the return to the field. Two-time USL League One Save of the Week winner Dylan Castanheira was called into action twice in a short span, punching away shots from long distance in the 19th and 21st minutes. Orlando’s pressure paid off moments later as a deflected shot from forward Wilfredo Rivera snuck into the bottom corner of the net, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
Fort Lauderdale CF, however, responded to the deficit by controlling possession and the rhythm of play in the next phase of the match. In the 39th minute Ricky Lopez-Espin diligently pressed the opposition high up the pitch, reacting to a heavy touch by Orlando keeper Austin Aviza and deflecting his pass into the back of the net for an equalizing goal, his third on the season. The match entered the halftime break with the score tied at 1-1.
The visitors made one change at halftime, bringing on Academy graduate Raggio in place of Blaine Ferri. Fort Lauderdale continued to control possession in the second half, dictating much of the flow of the match.
Lopez-Espin again tested the opposition defense in the 61st minute, forcing another save from the Orlando keeper. Moments later Fort Lauderdale made its second change of the half, bringing on the versatile Christian Lue Young in place of 15-year-old winger Felipe Valencia.
Fort Lauderdale made one final change in the 91st minute, bringing on Cesar Cuellar for Edison Azcona, but the team ran out of time to find a winning goal, ending the match at 1-1. The team finished the match with 60% possession, displaying its ability to dictate the rhythm of play.
Fort Lauderdale CF will return to action in just five days, taking on North Texas SC on August 19 at Inter Miami CF Stadium.