MIAMI – A second-half goal by Preston Tabort Etaka proved the difference as Hartford Athletic took a 1-0 victory against Miami FC on Saturday night at Riccard Silva Stadium. The win was Hartford’s second in a row, with both coming on the road in the Atlantic Division.
The game opened relatively evenly, and it was the visitors that produced the first real threat on goal in the 17th minute when Connor McGlynn put his laces through a free kick from 30 yards that Miami goalkeeper Connor Sparrow punched away to his right for a throw-in. Miami had its own chance from a set piece four minutes later, but Paco Craig was unable to control his header off a free kick by Pierre Da Silva from the left.
The hosts also threatened on a counterattack after turning possession over near the halfway line but Christiano Francois’ finish was deflected before being comfortably saved by Hartford’s Jeff Caldwell as the game went to the break scoreless. Six minutes into the second half, however, the Athletic almost took the lead as Miami’s defense failed to deal properly with a cross from the left, allowing Danny Barrera to fire a shot from the top of the penalty area that Sparrow had to be alert to parry to safety.
Hartford took the lead in the 59th minute, however, as Barrera chased down a ball on the right and then found Tabort Etaka with a backheeled pass. Tabort Etaka then cut into the right side of the penalty area and curled home a beautiful finish into the top-left corner of the net to put the visitors on top.
Miami had a big chance minutes later to get back on level terms when Billy Forbes latched onto a through-ball by Da Silva near the halfway line, but after rounding Caldwell the Turks & Caicos international couldn’t steer his finish on goal as two Hartford defenders looked to apply pressure. Sean McFarlane also had a good chance in the 69th minute but couldn’t send his header off Ariel Martinez’s free kick on target.
Forbes created space again for another good chance four minutes later as a good first touch carried him past his defender on the left, but his shot found the side-netting as he looked to shoot home at the near post. Martinez also fired wide from 20 yards as the hosts looked to find an equalizer as time ticked down.
The hosts had one final chance to find an equalizer in the final minute as a deflected cross from the left by Forbes set nicely for Speedy Williams, but his first-time shot was blocked by Walid Yacoubou to preserve Hartford’s shutout and earn the visitors all three points for the second time this season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Nii Armah Ashitey, Hartford Athletic – Ashitey was in the middle of Hartford’s shutout performance on the road, winning six tackles and 13 of 22 duels while making three interceptions and eight recoveries.
HFD – Preston Tabort Etaka (Danny Barrera) 59’