Fort Lauderdale CF came out victorious by a score of 2-1 in a bout with Toronto FC II at home in DRV PNK Stadium Saturday evening. The match marked the conclusion of a three-game series with Toronto over the last 10 days.
A cloudy evening in South Florida welcomed the second rematch between the squads, as each team looked offensively determined to strike first in the opening minutes of the game. For the home team, Inter Miami loanee George Acosta drove the ball through midfield, finding teammate Josh Penn in plenty of space with a long pass; the winger sprinted near the right corner of the 18-yard box, maneuvering towards his left side past a defender, and swinging his left foot to put the ball in the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead. The play increased Acosta’s team-leading assist tally to six on the season, and marked the second goal in as many games for Penn.
Toronto, however, kept lurking for most of the first half, creating set-plays that required strong defensive stops from players like goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira, defender Ethan Hardin, and winger Venton Evans, removing space for the opposing team to operate. In the second half of the match, Toronto resumed their relentless efforts in trying to level the score.
Edison Azcona matched the energy set by the rivals as the young midfielder ran almost the full length of the pitch, gliding past his defender, cutting in, and winding his left foot back, pulling the trigger, but ultimately getting denied at an attempt to extend the lead in the 49th minute.
Toronto’s Garrett McLaughlin was rewarded after multiple efforts at attempting to head the ball for an equalizer; at the 68-minute mark a penalty was called for Toronto, setting up McLaughlin for a kick from the spot that was converted to equalize.
Although the visiting team gained momentum by tying the match, Fort Lauderdale remained disciplined in attempting to regain the lead. Penn continued to pick up where he left off earlier in the first half, pressing offensively and setting up teammates while time kept ticking.
Then, at the 90-minute mark of regulation, Mitchell Curry found second-half sub Braxton Najib as the midfielder threaded a pass between two defenders to teammate Josh Penn, leading the pack. Penn immediately attempted to chip the ball over the goalkeeper, drawing a save, but the rebound connected with a streaking Curry. The striker ultimately capitalized on his open-goal attempt, scoring his third goal of the season and icing the game.
Next up for Fort Lauderdale is a trip to the Grand Canyon State as they take on FC Tucson on the road in Kino North Stadium next weekend on Saturday, July 3 at 10 p.m. ET.