Second-half goals from forwards Max Griffin and Pablo Campos paced Minnesota United FC to a 3-1 win over the host Fort Lauderdale Strikers in front of 3,295 spectators at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday evening.
“It was an even game in the first half,” said United coach Manny Lagos “The Strikers came on strong in the second half, like a home team normally would. Fortunately we got lucky on one and that helped us and in the end it was a good result for us.”
The first chance fell to the Strikers in the fourth minute on an open header from 12 yards by midfielder Carlos Salazar that was saved easily by United goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel.
The Strikers pushed play again in the 12th minute when defender Rafael Alves first-timed a midfielder Mark Anderson corner kick that was cleared from the goal mouth by the Minnesota defense.
Minnesota made its first serious foray in the 24th minute on a short cross from forward Simone Bracalello that was headed over the bar from close range by forward Max Griffin.
Griffin scored from close range in the 73rd minute of the second half on a pass that was dummied in the box by Campos.
Griffin’s goal punished the Strikers for a series of missed chances that came throughout a 15-minute span of the second half. Alves skipped a header wide in the 51st minute and that was followed a minute later by Mark Anderson’s misfire of a pass from Darnell King.
United made it 2-0 in the 76th minute when ‘keeper Oekel sent a long goal kick that was headed into the Strikers’ net by Alves.
Forward Martin Nunez scored off the bench in his first game back for the Strikers in the 80th minute, however, Campos notched Minnesota’s third tally three minutes into injury time for the 3-1 final.
“I’m not disappointed,” said Strikers coach, Günter Kronsteiner. “Our guys played well. We scored an own goal and that is what hurt us.
“I’ve only been working with the team a short time. Anyone that works and lives soccer knows it takes time. Already the team is more organized and we’ll continue to get better.”
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