Lightning strikes instead of the opposition slowed the Fort Lauderdale Strikers’ early offensive outburst Saturday night.
The Strikers scored twice in the opening 13 minutes before lightning and thunderstorms interrupted their match against Minnesota United FC at Lockhart Stadium.
Play stopped in the 15th minute and both teams returned to their dressing rooms. The match resumed after a 63-minute delay.
The quick goals proved sufficient as the Strikers withstood late pressure and defeated Minnesota 2-1 for their first victory of the Spring Season. Mark Anderson and David Foley scored the early goals to help the Strikers shake off their early-season malaise.
With the win against Minnesota, which entered Saturday’s game tied with Carolina for first in the seven-team NASL table, the Strikers (1-3-1, four points) also moved ahead of last place San Antonio.
“We felt like we’ve played well all year and have been a little bit unlucky with the results,” Strikers coach Daryl Shore said. “We have a good team. We just have to keep this momentum going.”
The Strikers pressed the action soon after the opening kickoff and were rewarded with Anderson’s goal two minutes into the match. Jemal Johnson’s crossing pass from the left wing found Anderson, who dribbled a couple of steps toward the large area and converted on a shot that deflected off the right post and into the net.
For Anderson, the team’s leading scorer in 2012, the goal was his first of the season. Anderson had not scored since Aug. 4.
Fort Lauderdale took its first two-goal lead of the season after Foley’s goal in the 13th minute. Foley received Manny Gonzalez’s long pass and dribbled unmarked toward the half circle, where he blasted a shot past Minnesota goalkeeper Daryl Sattler.
“Obviously it’s frustrating, you have a two-nil lead and that’s the last thing you want,” Anderson said of the delay. “When we got inside we just tried to keep our heads up and concentrate on the things we did right.
“It was tough but luckily we came out and weathered the storm.”
Shore admitted that the delay might have prevented additional Strikers’ first half scoring opportunities.
“That killed us because we had momentum,” Shore said. “We felt like the gas pedal was on full. I’m proud of our guys with the reaction that they had coming back after the delay because a lot of teams up two would play a defensive shell.”
New Strikers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella rarely was tested in the first half but faced immediate pressure in the opening minutes of the second half.
Attinella, who joined the Strikers on loan from MLS club Real Salt Lake last week, left the goal area and defeated Minnesota forward Pablo Campos for a loose ball in the 51st minute.
Three minutes later, Attinella denied Campos again with his diving deflection off his shot deep in the penalty area.
The Strikers were forced to play at a man disadvantage after the ejection of defender Stephane Guillaume’s second yellow card infraction in the 57th minute.
Minnesota (2-1-2, 8 points) cut the Strikers’ advantage to 2-1 after Campos’ goal in the 68th minute. Campos received a centering pass from Simone Bracalello and headed in a shot inside the 6-yard box.
Bracalello had an open point-blank shot to tie the match deep in the penalty area in the 87th minute. But Bracalello’s attempt sailed high above the crossbar.
Fort Lauderdale will have road matches at San Antonio and FC Edmonton the next two weekends before returning to Lockhart Stadium for its next home game against Carolina on June 1.