The Fort Lauderdale Strikers spotted Team America two first-half goals but midfielder Ricardo Villa led a second-half charge for three goals in a 15-minute span and a 3-2 Fort Lauderdale victory tonight before 13,792 at Lockhart Stadium.
The Strikers were down, 2-0, with 35 minutes left. Yet, with Brian Kidd's winning goal, they took first place in the Southern Division with an 8-10 record and 78 points, one point ahead of idle Tulsa.
Team America, losing its fourth straight, is 8-9, 56 points. With tonight's two goals, the Washington-based club edged up to a share of third place with Tampa Bay; the Bandits gained only one point tonight in losing at Chicago, 4-1.
Playing confidently on Lockhart's grass, Team America attacked early. In the ninth minute, Andrew Parkinson brought the ball downfield to the left and passed to Sonny Askew, who centered the ball to Glenn, who beat defender Thomas Rongen and scored on a left-footed half-volley.
In the 30th minute, Hayden Knight took a ball from midfield and passed to Bruce Savage on the right. Savage centered a pass to Greg Villa, who leaped past defender Mike Walsh and headed the ball past goalkeeper Jan van Beveren.
In the second half, Fort Lauderdale took the initiative. Teofilo Cubillas (his seventh goal this season) at 55:10 and Ricardo Villa (third in three games) at 64:49 slipped shots past goalkeeper Paul Hammond.
Five minutes later, Roger Davies bounced two endline shots off Hammond, sprawled on the ground at the goalpost. After the second shot, the ball caromed off Hammond's leg and Kidd was there with the decisive five-yard shot at 70:17.
"When we got the second goal, we got a little complacent," said Team America's Greg Villa. "We stopped doing the things that got us two goals up. We stopped pressuring a little bit and got a little tired."
"After they gave up the first goal, they panicked," losing Coach Alkis Panagoulias said of his team, outshot 29-11. "When they got to 2-0 they thought the game was over. The first half we had a very good game."
At halftime he told his team that.
"I gave them the same advice, just to do the same thing and not fall back. They didn't. I don't know why."