Fort Lauderdale CF fell 2-1 against Toronto FC II at Osceola Heritage Park in Central Florida in the second of three consecutive meetings scheduled this month between the sides. The match kicked off at 7 p.m. ET and aired live on ESPN+.
A humid night led to difficulties for both squads trying to find their defensive footing early on in the game. Fort Lauderdale started the match in attack mode after a defensive play in the midfield gave Mitchell Curry an opportunity to score in just under five minutes. While Curry’s attempt from the left side of the box was denied by Toronto’s goalkeeper, the rebound was immediately secured by Josh Penn on the right side of the goal, giving the forward an open opportunity to tap the ball in for an early lead; it marked the first goal of the season for Penn.
As the game settled down, however, momentum shifted in favor of the home team. Toronto’s Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty found the equalizer at the 14-minute mark soon after his teammate Jayden Nelson crossed the ball into traffic inside the six-yard box, allowing Marshall-Rutty to finish the job by swinging the rebound into the net for an equalizer.
Fort Lauderdale began to regroup offensively with impressive movement led by Penn, including an opportunity at the 16-minute mark, though it wasn’t converted.
A mere four minutes later, however, Toronto would find the third goal of the match, and the first lead for the home team; Julian Altobelli briskly turned his body towards the goal and fired an attempt straight into the left corner of the net off a cross and assist from Marshall-Rutty, making it 2-1.
Near the end of the first half, a pass from Penn gifted Curry a chance to find his third goal of the season. His bid to tie the match was denied by the goalkeeper by mere inches as the ball struck his fingertips and ricocheted off the post.
In the second half, Fort Lauderdale continued to push for an equalizer. A few giveaways haunted the club for the final minutes as Toronto scavenged for new opportunities to increase their lead. At the 72-minute mark, Toronto’s midfielder Mehdi Essoussi chipped a shot towards the top left of the net, as the ball curved-mid air. Drake Callender, though, had other plans. The goalkeeper tracked down the attempt and shifted his body while outstretching the palm of his right hand, denying the midfielder and adding to the highlight reel for the visiting team.
Ultimately, Fort Lauderdale was unable to find a second goal, falling 2-1 on the road.
Next up for Fort Lauderdale is a bounce back opportunity in a second rematch against Toronto FC II back at home in DRV PNK Stadium on Saturday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET.