In arguably it’s best performance this season, North Carolina FC fell 2-1 to Fort Lauderdale CF Saturday, June 5. After a really promising 90 minutes where NCFC easily could have grabbed a go-ahead goal, Fort Lauderdale snagged the winner in stoppage time.
A back-and-forth first half saw both teams get on the scoresheet. Fort Lauderdale opened the scoring in the 30th minute through Mitchell Curry, but the lead did not last long as Jay Tee Kamara and Selmir Miscic linked up once again to bring NCFC level in the 35th minute.
Miscic has been a man on a mission to start this season, scoring all three of NCFC’s goals so far. Kamara has provided the assist on two of the goals and the two loanees are forming quite the dynamic duo early in the season.
Early in stoppage time, Fort Lauderdale capitalized on NCFC’s early red card and got the winner.
Early in the game, a hard collision between FTL’s Sami Guerdiri and NCFC’s Nelson Martinez saw both teams’ trainers come onto the field. Both players attempted to continue, but neither were able to finish that half.
In the 34th minute, Shermaine Martina replaced Martinez to make his NCFC debut. Due to COVID-19-related visa issues, Martina had only started training with the team this week. With his addition to the lineup, Max Flick was forced to the right back position, while Martina partnered with Malick Mbaye at center back.
Martina was really solid on his debut and even nearly scored at the other end but the Fort Lauderdale keeper was able to tip it off the bar.
Damian Las also made his NCFC debut, starting the game in place of Jake McGuire. McGuire had started the season really well between the sticks, but Las’s solid performance in the loss proves there will be a battle for that starting spot.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, NCFC had chance after chance in front of the supporters end but just could not get one to find the back of the net. Between wild bounces off the keeper's legs, fantastic saves and goal line clearances, NCFC just couldn’t find a break in front of the net.
After an NCFC corner in the 77th minute, Fort Lauderdale got on a breakaway, which Mbaye stopped as the last man with a very aggressive slide tackle at midfield. Mbaye appeared to come in with his studs up on the challenge and was sent off.
Overall, it was a really solid and promising showing from NCFC. It was their best performance of the season and there were a bunch of notable individual performances. Thorn Simpson, starting at home for the first time, made really good runs and had a silky backheel leading up to the goal. Flick was very strong at the back and came up big a few times. Not to mention the performances from Miscic and Kamara, who have been NCFC’s early-season standouts.
If NCFC can build on the solid performances and clean up some of the small things, it will only be a matter of time before it picks up its first win in League One.
NCFC will hit the road for its next match, taking on the Greenville Triumph on Wednesday, June 16.