The Forward Madison FC Flamingos (1-2-0) mounted an impressive comeback victory against Orlando City B (0-3-1) Friday night in the Flamingos’ first win in franchise history.
After an impressive showing in a scrimmage Tuesday night against the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team at Breese Stevens Field, the Flamingos were able to get on the scoreboard for the first time ever and hold on for the win over the Badgers.
With the win Friday, the team got their first real taste of victory — accentuated by their first home field appearance — after several wins in pre-season scrimmages.
In both of the Flamingos first two regular season games, the team lost by a score of 1–0, including a heartbreaking loss in extra-time to North Texas SC April 13.
The Flamingos came out the gates firing away versus Orlando, looking like they were on the verge of scoring quickly. The best opportunity came from Josiel Núñez, who was able to get off a shot just wide of the post during the 16th-minute of play after escaping a jersey tug by a defender.
Unfortunately, Forward Madison FC fell to a 1–0 deficit after a foul in the Forward Madison 18-yard box resulted in a penalty kick conversion by Orlando’s Koby Osei-Wusu.
The goal from Orlando was the Flamingo’s second penalty kick goal allowed in two games.
After trailing at the half, the Flamingos showed what separates them from the rest of their opponents — grit.
A game-changing save by goalkeeper Ryan Coulter on a breakaway by Orlando striker Luc Granitur in the 52nd minute turned the tides in favor of Forward Madison FC.
To follow, in the 58th minute, Núñez made history by scoring the first goal in Forward Madison FC regular season history.
With defenders closing in on him, Núñez took a shot off the inside of his right foot. The ball curled away from the Orlando goalkeeper, who reached out an arm but was only able to graze the ball with his fingertips as the ball came to rest in the back of the net.
The game was tied at one all.
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The second and deciding goal of the night for Madison came off the foot of Flamingo defender Shaun Russell.
In the 70th minute, Núñez took a free kick from just outside the penalty area. He put a nasty curve on the ball, but the shot just missed and bounced off the left post near a diving goalkeeper.
The rebound traveled to Russell, who took advantage of the spin that directed the ball right to him and knocked it in for a 2–1 Madison lead.
After two Don Smart yellow cards resulted in a red card for Madison in the 81st minute, the short-handed Flamingos managed to hold off Orlando in the remainder of regulation and five minutes of stoppage time.
Hundreds of miles away in Madison, supporters across the city exploded in celebration as victory finally came to a state known for their rich professional athletic success.
Forward Madison FC secured their first franchise win, taking the weight off of their shoulders as they return to Wisconsin for their inaugural home opener of the regular season at Breese Stevens Field.
The win also puts Forward Madison FC in a tie for 7th place in USL-League One.
During post-game interviews after a home-opening win against the Wisconsin Badgers Tuesday night, forward Brian Bement expressed the excitement building up inside him and his fellow teammates as they awaited their first home game of the regular season at Breese Stevens Field April 27, when they take on Greenville Triumph SC.
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“Myself and the other guys are buzzing for the regular season to come back here,” Bement said. “This was incredible and I can’t even imagine how incredible it will be next weekend.”
Greenville Triumph SC (2-2-0) will prove to be a tough battle for Forward Madison, as they won two straight matches before falling on Saturday. Of these two wins, one comes against Lansing — who is tied for second place in USL-League One — and Chattanooga, who beat Forward Madison FC in the first game of the season.
Players to watch in the matchup include midfielder Núñez and forward Paulo Júnior for the Flamingos and forward Jake Keegan and midfielder Carlos Gómez for Greenville.
Núñez and Júnior combined for the first goal of the season, with Júnior tapping the ball to Núñez for the shot and score.
Greenville’s Jake Keegan leads the team this season with two goals, having scored one in each of the team’s two wins. Gómez has assisted on both of those goals, putting him in the lead with two assists on the season for Greenville.
A limited number of tickets for the home opener are still available online, but the majority of the seats have already been filled thanks to the already dedicated Forward Madison FC fanbase nicknamed “The Flock.”
Breese Stevens Field — which is projected to be nearly done with construction on time for the weekend — will be a loud and rowdy environment, hopefully giving the Flamingos enough energy and support to come away with a win.
The game will take place Saturday, April 27, with kickoff scheduled to take place at 7 p.m.