Streak buster! Diegues, Manfut lead Tropics to 7-5 road win over Orlando SeaWolves

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND – The streak is over.

Ricardo Diegues scored two goals in the first 1:43, and Antonio Manfut added two goals including the game winner as the Florida Tropics SC won their first road game of the Major Arena Soccer League Season Saturday night, defeating the rival Orlando SeaWolves, 7-5.

Florida had been 0-8 on the road this season, and had not had a road win in 11 games since a 12-9 decision over the Harrisburg Heat late last season.

Playing perhaps its   best 15 minutes of soccer of the season, Florida stormed to a 4-0 first quarter lead, getting additional goals from Matt Clare – starting to heat up after being acquired in a trade with Tacoma at the end of January – with his second marker in as many games and rookie Enzo Marangoni, his first of the season after being sidelined most of the year with an injury.

After the SeaWolves cut the deficit to 4-2 midway through the second period, Manfut got a critical goal just 30 seconds after Orlando had sliced its deficit in half to stem the host's momentum and then slammed home the game winner less than four minutes later at the 13:11 mark of the second quarter.

Maycon Franca added an insurance score just over two minutes into the fourth after the SeaWolves had pulled to withing 6-5 with three goals in a span of 2:03 in the third quarter.

Manfut and Antonio Braitwaite, who assisted on one of the goals, continue to shine. The two were acquired in separate mid-January trades, and now have combined for 19 goals in eight games for the Tropics, who are still without their leading scorer Guilherme and top two defenders in Lucas Teixeira and Lucas Montelares. 

Florida improved to 5-12, four games back of the Kansas City Comets who hold the second and final playoff spot in the South Central Division, while Orlando dropped its third straight and sits at 6-8 in the division.

Florida will host Kansas City twice later this month at the RP Funding Center – March 17 and 30 – and will also meet Orlando twice more at Silver Spurs Arena, including the regular season finale on April 13. 

Before welcoming the Comets, the Tropics will host another division foe, the St. Louis Ambush, on Sunday (March 10) who currently sit third in the division at 8-10. Kickoff is at 3:05 p.m.