MASL Star Ricardo Carvalho nets pair as Tropics push past Winter Haven, 3-0

by Brian Ackley

AUBURNDALE, Fla. –  The Florida Tropics SC Presented by Bond Clinic kept this coming weekend’s showdown with Dragon City SC in tact following a 3-0 win over local rival Winter Haven United in a United Premier Soccer League Florida West division matchup on Sunday at Lake Maude Sports Complex

Florida led just 1-0 at intermission before pulling away in the final 45 minutes. Earlier in the season, the Tropics trimmed the United 4-1 for a season sweep of the regular season series.

Major Arena Soccer League star Ricardo Carvalho scored Florida’s first two goals, one in the first half and then a pretty bicycle kick finish on a rebound mid-way through the second half. Carvalho had a career-high 30 goals to lead Florida in goal scoring last season when the team went 18-3 to earn the MASL’s Eastern Confernce Championship. It was his second two-goal game of the team’s outdoor season this fall.

Wendell Albuqurque banged in a shot off a Winter Haven defender in stoppage time for the insurance goal for Florida, which improved to 6-0-1, four points back of Dragon City who is 7-0-1. The Sarasota-based side handed the Tropics their only loss of the season in October, 2-0. A win for Florida this coming weekend would leave them just a point behind Dragon City in the standings, but Florida would still have a game in hand.

It was the team’s first shutout victory this fall, with Hugo Silva, a Second Team All MASL selection last season, in goal.

Florida currently holds down second place in the division, four points behind Sarasota-based Dragon City FC. Those two teams will tangle next weekend in Sarasota, and the Tropics still have played one less game than Dragon City, meaning they continue to control their own fate when it comes to a regular-season title.

“We continue to play some of our best soccer of the season. This was a hard-fought win that keeps our winning momentum going heading into our big game against Dragon City,”” Head Coach Lucas Teixeira said. “We are playing with more focus and agressiveness than we did very early in the season when we played them the first time, so we’re expecting this will lead to a better result this time around.”

The Tropics will play a 12-game fall season and are the defending 2019 Spring UPSL national champions. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the UPSL did not play a spring season this year. Florida will also start its fifth season playing indoors in the Major Arena Soccer League this winter as the defending Eastern Conference champions. Games are played at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.