The Florida Derby set the perfect stage for clutch play, and the FC Dallas duo in Fort Lauderdale delivered. Forward Bradlee Baladez (above) provided that clutch play by scoring the game-winner in the 86th minute in front of more than 3,600 home fans in NASL play on Saturday.
Former Real Salt Lake forward Paulo Jr. played a brilliant through ball to Baladez, whose crisp strike from inside the 18-yard box was untested on its way into the net. The Baladez winner was only part of the equation, as Strikers goalkeeper Richard Sanchez made two key saves on the night to keep Fort Lauderdale in front. The 2-1 win moved Fort Lauderdale into a surprising four-way tie for second place. The two teams face one another again in a week’s time in Tampa Bay.
In Minnesota, Montreal Impact midfielders Calum Mallace and Sinisa Ubiparipovic fell to the league-leading New York Cosmos, 1-0. Mallace got the start and was replaced after 69 minutes by Ubiparipovic. New York took the win when former Red Bulls defender Carlos Mendes found the net off a cross in the 53rd minute. The goal went unanswered, and the Cosmos took the victory, holding on to first place with 21 points.
On Sunday, the Carolina RailHawks traveled to Edmonton in search of three much-needed points in the chase for first. FC Edmonton turned them away, though, with an impressive 2-1 win. Galaxy midfielder Kenney Walker went the distance for Carolina and earned an assist in the 75th minute. His LA teammate Bryan Gaul came in for the RailHawks with five minutes remaining, while RSL’s Enzo Martinez played the final 18 minutes. Neither was able to help Carolina earn road points, however, as the RailHawks were unable to overcome Edmonton’s two goals, the first of which began with a Corey Hertzog throw-in in the 31st minute. The win puts Edmonton, who are in seventh place, within three points of the four-way tie for second.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2, Tampa Bay Rowdies 1; Saturday, Oct. 5
GK Richard Sanchez, Ft. Lauderdale (FC Dallas) – Started, played 90 minutes
F Bradlee Baladez, Ft. Lauderdale (FC Dallas) – Substitute, played 10 minutes, one goal
Minnesota United FC 0, New York Cosmos 1; Saturday, Oct. 5
M Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Minnesota (Montreal Impact) – Substitute, played 21 minutes
M Calum Mallace, Minnesota (Montreal Impact) – Started, played 69 minutes
FC Edmonton 2, Carolina RailHawks 1; Sunday, Oct. 6
M Enzo Martinez, Carolina (Real Salt Lake) – Substitute, played 18 minutes
D Bryan Gaul, Carolina (LA Galaxy) – Substitute, played 5 minutes
M Kenney Walker Carolina (LA Galaxy) – Started, played 90 minutes, one assist
F Corey Hertzog (Vancouver) - Started, played 89 minutes, one yellow card