Behind Aly Hassan’s two-goal performance, Fort Lauderdale defeats Atlanta 5-3
By: Pedro Heizer
FORT LAUDERDALE – Prior to Saturday’s 5-3 win in front of 3,160 Striker Likers at Lockhart Stadium, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers were 0-8-2 in games where the opposition scored three goals.
After going up 2-0 early in the first half thanks to goals by Paulo Araujo Jr in the 5th minute, and Mark Anderson in the 28th minutes, the Strikers’ season-long weakness was shown yet again as they let the Silverbacks tie it before the end of the first half.
Pedro Mendes converted a penalty kick in the 32nd minute after Jack Stewart took him down, then in the 40th minute Matt Horth capitalized on a defensive miscue in the box and scored his fifth goal of the season past Matt Glaeser.
“I’m pleased we won the game,” said coach Daryl Shore. “I’m not please we were up 2-0 and gave that lead away.”
What do they need to do to not let leads slip away? “We just need to be smart and we just weren’t very smart when we were up 2-0,” said coach Shore.
The beginning of the second half was the same story as the first, Fort Lauderdale scored twice to take the 4-2 lead early thanks to two goals by Aly Hassan.
In the 54th minute Hassan redirected a Walter Restrepo pass, and in the 67th minute he hit a left-footed shot from the top of the box.
“Aly has been itching to get back on the field and he’s worked hard to get there,” said coach Shore. “Goal scorers can be streaky and hopefully this is the start of a good run for him.”
Atlanta fought back and cut the lead to 4-3 in the 76th minute thanks to Paulo Mendes and it seemed as if Fort Lauderdale was going to let yet another lead slip.
But in the end, it was Walter Restrepo with the clincher in the 90th minute to put the nail on the coffin.
On a counter attack, Scott Lorenz fed a long forward pass to Restrepo who was able to make the most of his opportunity and put the game out of reach at 5-3.
“Scoring that goal in the end was very important,” said Restrepo. “We can’t lose points at home when we are fighting for a better playoff spot.”
“We need to look at film and fix the mistakes that we are making in the back, I don’t think it’s just the back four, but it’s the whole team defending,” explained coach Shore. “At the end of the day sometimes you have some crazy games, this was one of them and fortunately we were on the winning end.”
– The win moves Fort Lauderdale (7-7-6, 27 points) into fourth place in the NASL standings.
– Aly Hassan’s two goals were his first goals since his hat-trick on April 25
– Entering the game, Restrepo was tied for first in the league in assists but once it was over, Restrepo took over the league lead with eight.
– Mark Anderson also came into the game tied with Nick Zimmerman of Carolina for second in the league in goals scored with nine but now is in second place all by himself with 10.
– Anderson also passed Abe Thompson for third all-time in franchise history for goals scored in a season and is only five goals behind Alex Alfonso for second place.