United Halt Soldiers’ Advance

Miami United, playing in the 2020 Open Cup qualifying tournament under their U-23 banner, edged out Florida Soccer Soldiers 2-1 in an enthralling encounter at Orange Bowl Field, Ives Estates Park on Sunday evening.

A clear and dry fall evening in this part of Miami, not that you would know it by the soaring temperature and high humidity, an unseasonably warm day for mid-October that delivered a red hot game of soccer for the 150 fans in attendance.

Soldiers started on the front foot, wrenching the ball from United and enjoying the majority of early possession. Andres Ruiz de Somocurcio and Jose Boggio in particular enjoying plenty of time on the ball and Josduar Serrano making some trademark runs from his full back position down the right flank. But there were few clear cut chances created as Miami United’s experienced back line kept Soldiers #9 Bryan Perea very quiet.

As the half wore on Miami United began to grow into the game with their physical edge beginning to show. They were starting to give Soldiers less and less time on the ball with a lot of pressing and hard, but fair, tackling. Soon, United were rewarded with the game’s first goal, Matias Solari forcing the ball home from close range after a corner caused chaos in the penalty area.

The second half started as the first finished. Soldiers struggling to keep the ball and get their passing game going. United were happy for this to continue and protect their one goal lead. With time running out Soccer Soldiers went a bit more direct with their play and got their breakthrough. Perea was finding more and more space in the final third and got the equalizer with a great finish, latching on to a through ball from midfield.

Extra time looked to be certain with less than 15 minutes left to find a match winning goal. Soldiers looked the more likely of the two teams to find it. United can thank goalkeeper Omar Soto for keeping the scores level with a few good saves. The quality of the play for the whole game really underlined the quality present at this level in South Florida.

Two minutes into injury time at the end of the second half disaster struck for the team that captured everyone’s hearts with their run in the 2019 competition. With a huge gap gaping down the left hand side, United went raiding into the space and a perfect cross was swung over for Nicolas Micoli to thump a free header into the net from point black range. The contingent of Miami United supporters cheered a great goal that sees their team head into the third qualifying round to play Hurricane FC of Delray Beach, who hammered Orlando Wolves 7-1.

Megan Rapinoe to speak to University of Miami students in October

Megan Rapinoe

Fresh off claiming “The Best FIFA Women’s Player” award in Milan, the University of Miami announced Tuesday that women’s soccer star and social activist Megan Rapinoe will address the student body on Oct. 10.

As part of the “What Matters to U” series, hosted by UM student government’s Student Engagement Planning Agency, Megan Rapinoe will likely speak about her activities on the pitch (two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winner) and off (social activism, business investment and philanthropy).

This is the third “What Matters to U” speech. Science communicator Bill Nye and actor/comedian Ken Jeong spoke in Feburary and April 2019, respectively.

As a student event, tickets are only available for undergraduate, graduate, medical and law students of the University of Miami. More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page.

Magic City Soccer Podcast Episode 74: The NISA Era dawns for The Miami FC (plus bonus interviews!)

Magic City Soccer Podcast. Photographic by Matthew Bunch.

In this episode of the Magic City Soccer podcast, Matt, Drew and Lee discuss The Miami FC’s second NPSL National Championship, and look ahead to the club’s move to NISA. Inter Miami’s signings and stadium also get debated. In addition, in our companion episode, Drew and Lee have some Q&As with Miami FC players Mark Pais, Miguel Gonzalez and Lance Rozeboom. Join us, won’t you?

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Ever Ready?

Another tease on squad building from IMCF HQ. A late night meeting to pitch to another player, the kind of effort which can probably only mean it’s another potential Designated Player target. But does this contain a clue big enough to connect the dots back to the possible target?

I am an empanada enthusiast and who isn’t? And who doesn’t love Graziano’s? Product placement or a hint to the player’s nationality? Let’s assume the latter. An Argentine DP for IMCF makes a massive amount of sense. Anyone who gets out to games in Miami knows that Argentineans show up for soccer and they love being in a stadium watching the game live. South Florida may not have the big numbers of Argentineans as it does Cubans, Colombians or Venezuelans but you can’t go to a game without seeing a River or Boca jersey or maybe someone chilling with their maté. A lot of names have been touted as striking options but if you are IMCF you would absolutely be looking at filling your #10 jersey with a DP. The #10 jersey is always a great thing to see on the back of an Argentine player. Maradona… Messi…

Looking at the profile of Cavani as a target. Is there someone out there with a contract expiring, a big enough profile to wake people up and who would be stellar in MLS? Why yes there is and that man is Éver Banega.

Banega is the kind of technician that the team needs in the midfield engine room. A wonderful player on the ball capable of creating chances and controlling the game. He is a fantastic playmaker. Coming to the end of his career in Europe in La Liga with Sevilla he was the player Unai Emery built his Europa League winning team around. The rumours in the Spanish press are that Los Rojiblancos might be looking to cash in early. Turkish club Galatasaray had a little interest while the transfer window was open. What this means is that for a few million dollars IMCF might be able to land Banega in the winter market, so he could join up with the franchise for the start of the MLS season.

It’s a move that makes a lot of sense for the club but possibly the player as well. Banega is currently 31 years old so the security of a 3-4 year contract on a DP salary might turn his head. Éver might also be considering a return to his home country but the unique challenge of being the main man in the 305 is something that might very well interest him at this stage in his career. The possibilities are there. Might you find yourself in line at Graziano’s in 2020, turn around and see Señor Banega? Maybe.

Previewing The Match: FC Barcelona v Napoli

Barcelona faceoff against Napoli in the opening fixture of the La Liga v Serie A Cup from Hard Rock Stadium. Image Courtesy of Hard Rock Stadium

After a summer of dormancy, Miami finally awoke from it’s slumber. While locally The Miami FC took home the NPSL Championship, there have been no friendlies in the Magic City. Miami was set to miss European club friendlies for the first time since 2016. That all changed with a late addition of two European mega powers in Barcelona and Napoli.

The Miami FC defeats New York Cosmos to claim second NPSL national title

The Miami FC captain Dylan Mares hoists the NPSL National Chamopnshp trophy after Miami defeated New York Cosmos, 3-1.

The Miami FC claimed its second National Premier Soccer League National Championship on Saturday night, defeating host New York Cosmos 3-1.

Miami FC, which has announced it has plans to leave NPSL for the National Independent Soccer Association, became the first team in NPSL history to win a second title.

After both teams alternated chances in the first 10 minutes, a high press from Miami FC and Ariel Martinez generated a turnover from Daniel Szetela. The ball landed at the feet of captain Dylan Mares, who passed to Miguel Gonzalez, and found Mares on a one-time pass that set him up for a clear shot on goal. A low roller to the left corner beat Cosmos keeper Paul Blanchette to put Miami up 1-0.

The key second goal came just six minutes later, when another turnover from Szetela forced by Tomás Granitto led to the ball falling right at Mares’ foot. A few touches and a small move to the right found Mares open in the box with a look at the top-right corner. The captain again took his chance, and doubled his team’s advantage.

New York Cosmos would halve the advantage in the 30th minute, when an Ansi Agolli free kick sneaked through the crowd in the box and past Miami FC goalkeeper Mark Pais, who was anticipating a header that never came.

Keeping them in it

It was the one misstep from Pais, who made a number of saves to keep Miami FC in the game. Particularly in the second half, Pais made save after save to keep the one-goal advantage in place. In the 86th minute, it took a double-fingertip save from Pais to keep Miami FC on top.

The game was finally sorted in stoppage time, when defender Shawn Chin won a ball and found forward Darío Suárez on the wing. Chin then continued a run, and Suárez found him streaking down the right. With only Blanchette to beat, Chin calmly moved around the sliding keeper, continued his run, and passed the ball into the heart of the net. Chin’s shirt came off, his team ran over to join him at the opposite flag post, and the champions defended their crown.