Game recap: Late goals sink Tropics in first-ever PDL game

by Brian Ackley

MIAMI – Three late goals turned a close game into a lopsided final Thursday night as FC Miami City handed Lakeland  a 4-0 defeat in the Tropics  first-ever USL Premier Development League game.

The two sides went to intermission in a scoreless tie, despite the fact Miami had the better of the play for the opening 45 minutes, but most of the chances came from outside the box. The Tropics managed just three shots on goal. Miami, 1-0, had three first-half corners, and Lakeland just one.

It didn't take long for the hosts to get on the board, however, once the second half started. Naim Hamdi found himself one-on-one with Lakeland goalkeeper Jonathan Valerio, beating him low to the far post from just five yards out just two minutes in. 

Victor Rojas –  who was tied for fourth in goals during the Tropics Major Arena Soccer League season – had Lakeland's best chance in the 76th minute after a Miami turnover, but his short-side shot skittered just wide.

With the Tropics pressing the attack, Miami took advantage and put the game out of reach on a pair of goals by substitute Joel Ouedraogo, his first on four-on-two breakaway and the second on a rebound in the 85th minute. Mohamed Benzakour added the final tally in stoppage time, redirecting a free kick.

Lakeland, 0-1, will host The Villages SC in its home opener Saturday, May 20 at 7:35 p.m. at Bryant Stadium, the first of seven-home games this season for the Tropics.  The game will be webcast live on YouTube, and tickets are available for the historic event at www.lakelandtropics.com, or by calling 204-0101. 

The Buffalo are the defending PDL southeastern division champions, and most recently fell to the Jacksonville Armada U23, 2-1, in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open cup first-round game.