Forward Madison fell to a defeat on the road Friday night despite mounting a late rally, losing 2-1 to Orlando City B in Montverde, Fla. FMFC striker Brian Bement pulled back a beautiful chipped goal in the 89th minute, but the Flamingos couldn’t find the equalizer.
FMFC was the superior team on the statsheet, registering 13 total shots to Orlando's eight, as well as five shots on target to Orlando's two. The final result, however, escaped the Flamingos, who have now lost their last four USL League One games.
With Head Coach Daryl Shore suspended for the match, Assistant Coach Neil Hlavaty took over managerial duties for the first time in his career. And with midfielder Josiel Núñez suspended as well, Hlavaty had to find a new playmaker in the midfield, and often called on Jeff Michaud to step forward.
Orlando’s Rafael opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after a Forward Madison turnover in its defensive third. Thiago Souza forced the turnover and played Rafael, who picked up the pass and drove towards goal before firing a long-range shot into the top corner, beating goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre.
Madison’s J.C. Banks nearly tied the game in the 40th minute with a stunning bicycle kick attempt, but was denied the goal of a lifetime when his shot clattered off the crossbar.
Souza doubled the advantage for the hosts in the 63rd minute, capping of a lethal counter-attack following a Forward Madison free kick from just outside Orlando’s penalty area. After a poor serve from the set piece, Orlando’s Serginho clipped a ball in behind the Madison defense. Souza ran onto the pass, beat his defender, and curled a right-footed shot past Sylvestre to score his third goal of the season.
Bement got his goal by capping off a good piece of play by Madison in the 89th minute, shrugging off his defender and cheekily clipping the ball over onrushing Orlando goalkeeper Christian Herrera to cut the deficit in half.
Despite the loss, FMFC was buoyed by the presence of the "FlorMingos," an Orlando-based Forward Madison supporters' group dedicated to cheering the team on from afar. The FlorMingos were visible to fans watching on ESPN+, sitting in the stands across from the camera and covered in pink.
After 10 games played, Forward Madison now needs to find a way to move out of last place in the USL League One standings. The Flamingos return to League One action on Saturday, June 15, taking on FC Tucson at Breese Stevens Field. With eight days of rest in between games, it will be the joint-longest break the team has had all season - perhaps just what is needed to get back on even footing.
Before the match, FMFC will host a special "Women in Soccer" panel, featuring two-time Olympics gold medalist and Madisonian Lindsay Tarpley. Fans can get a match ticket and an invite to the panel for just 20 dollars.
Forward Madison FC’s inaugural season is here! The team will play its next home game on June 15 vs FC Tucson. Get tickets to see Forward Madison’s inaugural season at: https://www.forwardmadisonfc.com/tickets.