An end-to-end match saw Fort Lauderdale CF fall 2-3 at home against North Carolina FC in its 17th game of the USL League One season. The match at DRV PNK Stadium kicked off at 7:30 p.m. ET and aired live on ESPN+.
Fort Lauderdale made two changes from last weeks’ lineup against Forward Madison FC; Sami Guediri, on loan from Inter Miami CF, and Drew Hardin started in place of midfielders Ignacio Poplawski and Braxton Najib.
North Carolina opened the scoring early on in the first half, with midfielder Jay Tee Kamara making a slick run down the pitch before hitting an accurate shot down the keeper’s right-hand corner to give them the 0-1 advantage in the fifth minute.
The opening goal failed to deter Fort Lauderdale’s game plan, however, as the hosts continued with a possession-based strategy. This culminated in a fantastic build-up play which ultimately resulted in a goal for Fort Lauderdale; Guediri played an inch-perfect through ball to full back Noah Allen to split open the defense, who then showed incredible vision as he found midfielder Edison Azcona at the edge of the 18-yard box. The young Inter Miami loanee then confidently slotted the ball into the far-right corner of goal to level the score at 1-1 in the 11th minute.
Following the equalizer, Fort Lauderdale began to dominate possession as winger Venton Evans proved to be a headache for North Carolina down the right flank.
Despite controlling the match, in the 28th minute, a collision in the 18-yard box prompted the referee to point to the penalty spot. Striker Robert Kristo stepped up to take the penalty and slotted his shot into the right-hand corner of the goal to give North Carolina a 1-2 lead in the 29th minute.
The remainder of the half proved to be a midfield battle between the sides as they each sought to take control of the match. Ultimately, the half ended with North Carolina holding a slender 1-2 advantage.
The second half opened up in similar fashion to the first as both teams came agonizingly close to adding to the scoreline within the first five minutes. Midfielder George Acosta had a chipped shot go inches wide from the target, while goalkeeper Drake Callender made a spectacular reaction save to prevent North Carolina from adding to their lead.
Fort Lauderdale's fortunes changed in the 79th minute, however, as midfielder Dairon Reyes sent an excellent corner kick into the edge of the six-yard box which was met by a thunderous header by Modesto Méndez that blistered past the keeper. Fort Lauderdale deservedly leveled the game at 2-2 while Méndez scored his first goal of the season and Reyes registered his first assist.
Once the clock neared the 90th minute, as the game appeared like it was going to end on level terms, another penalty was called in favor of the visitors. Kristo shot his penalty into the top left corner of the net to give North Carolina the lead in the 91st minute of the game. This ultimately proved to be the winner with North Carolina winning the game 2-3.
Next up for Fort Lauderdale is a home matchup against Greenville Triumph SC at DRV PNK Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET.