Goals by forwards Marius Ebbers, Martin Nuñez and Fafà Picault helped Fort Lauderdale Strikers to a 3-2 victory over the visiting Indy Eleven in front of a crowd of 3,515 at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Strikers took it to Indy Elven from the opening whistle and got on the board in just the eighth minute. Carlos Salazar spotted Nuñez on the left side of the box. Some tricky footwork from the Uruguayan created just enough space for a hard, right-footed shot that went past Kristian Nicht in the Indy Eleven goal.
Indy Eleven were on the back foot following the goal, but equalized after a bit of good fortune. The Strikers were called for a handball in the box and Kleberson stepped up to take the penalty kick. Oka Nikolov guessed correctly on the shot, but the Brazilian’s effort was perfectly placed in the bottom right corner.
Indy were encouraged by the goal and stepped up the attack. Mike Ambersley had a chance go wide after a Strikers giveaway in midfield. Moments later Mark Anderson let rip from distance but a strong hand from Nicht prevented the Strikers from taking the lead.
The visitors had a chance to go ahead at the end of the half but were denied on a goal-line clearance from Justin Chavez. Mike Ambersley pounced on a rebound after Oka Nikolov had raced out of his box to deny an onrushing Indy attacker. Ambersley’s first-time effort was hard and low, but Chavez was on the line to make the goal-saving block.
Substitutions proved the difference for the Strikers in the search for a winning goal. Fafà Picault’s introduction injected pace down the right flank. The pacey winger was on hand to head home a pinpoint cross from Guerrero for his first goal in Strikers colors, giving the Strikers a 2-1 advantage.
Guerrero, who led the Strikers in assists last season, moved up to top of the list this season with two on the night. Minutes after Picault’s goal, German forward Marius Ebbers got on the end of Guerrero’s cross from the left to double the hosts lead. It was the forward’s first goal for the Strikers.
The Indy Eleven struck in stoppage time through defender Erick Norales, but it was too little too late as the referee blew the final whistle on the restart.
Photo by Jon van Woerden