After a converted penalty by Gio Godoy and then a spot shot saved by Amal Knight at the other end, it looked like FC Tucson was on its way to jumping into the middle of the playoff race.
But two late goals by Fort Lauderdale CF -- a breakaway goal in the waning minutes and a stoppage-time shot that caromed into the net after hitting the post -- ruined the party and handed the Men In Black a 2-1 loss at Kino North Stadium on Saturday night.
After a scoreless first half, FC Tucson came out on the front foot to start the second 45 minutes. They were quickly rewarded when forward Azaad Liadi was fouled in the box. Godoy stepped up and solidly struck a right-footed shot to goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira’s left as he dove the other way.
Just three minutes later, Fort Lauderdale had a chance to return the favor, but Knight saved a shot by Ricky Lopez-Espin. The save denied an eighth goal of the season for Lopez-Espin who is second in the league’s scoring race and appeared to be helping the Men In Black to their third win in four matches.
“Amal was great,” FC Tucson coach John Galas said. “He made a penalty save. He made some big-time saves when he needed to. Unfortunately, two late goals changed the game for us. I’m disappointed for the boys because they wanted to keep the streak going.”
The Men in Black (4-6-2, 14 points) had a few chances to double their lead, including an acrobatic, scissor-like strike from Godoy, a shot by Charlie Dennis that was deflected wide and a late breakaway shot by Roberto Alarcon that was stopped by Castanheira.
Seconds after Alarcon’s shot, it was Fort Lauderdale (4-5-2, 14 points) that had a breakaway which resulted in a goal for former U.S. national team player Jerome Kiesewetter to even the match.
The heartbreak for FC Tucson continued when substitute Eduardo Sosa’s long shot struck the far post and then rocketed into the side netting on the opposite side to make it 2-1 after .
“We were up one-nil and had the chances to put it away. We didn’t take our chances,” Galas said.
In the scoreless first half, FC Tucson took the initiative in the first 15 minutes with two shots going errant and two more being saved or blocked. The key battle had Fort Lauderdale center back Frank Nodarse trying to corral Liadi with Nodarse picking up an early yellow.
Fort Lauderdale CF’s few first-half chances on goal were smothered out by the FC Tucson defense. The Florida team committed 11 fouls to just four by the Men In Black.
FC Tucson now travels to Hart Park in Wauwatosa, Wis., to take on Forward Madison FC on Saturday, Oct. 3. Kickoff is at 5 p.m., Tucson time.