Much of the talk in the Miami-Dade County soccer world has been focused on The Miami FC of the North American Soccer League. Between its 14-game unbeaten run and its two victories in U.S. Open Cup competition against Major League Soccer opposition, it’s worth talking about. However, a boiling rivalry has formed in a lower division, and a conference championship may come down to a local derby between these two clubs: Miami United FC and Miami Fusion FC.
Miami-Dade County has largely dominated this conference since the NPSL underwent realignment in 2013. With the exception of that season, a team from Miami-Dade has won the conference title in each year. In fact, Miami United and Miami Fusion have alternated conference titles since 2014. Miami United won first in 2014, then Miami Fusion won in its first season in 2016. Miami United returned to the top last season, but continuing the pattern, Miami Fusion currently sits atop the conference:
As an additional feather in Miami Fusion’s cap, the squad currently sits atop the NPSL’s league-run Power Rankings, which is calculated by points gained per match.
At this point in the season, Miami Fusion appears to have an absolute stranglehold on the title. However, there is one tiny wrinkle. The team’s final game of the season is against Miami United at Milander Park, United’s home field. “But Fusion are five points up! That doesn’t matter!” you say? Naples United will have a huge say in whether that is true or not.
Naples United are no world-beaters. Sitting at the bottom of the table, they have very little to play for. However, they traveled to Ives Estates Park and gave them fits on Wednesday in 1-0 Fusion victory. Now, Fusion must travel to Naples and play tomorrow night. At the same time, United will travel to play Jacksonville Armada U-23. A Fusion loss and United win would set up a winner-take-all showdown in Hialeah. Fusion are obviously still the favorites, but a one-game scenario must be all United could ask for.
Sounds exciting, right? Well, that doesn’t even factor in the fight.
The last time these two teams faced off on May 20, it was at Ives Estates Park. However, a large contingent of Miami United fans (they go by the name of La 12 United) traveled to the game. It did not go well for United, as they trailed 5-2 in the 57th minute. That’s when things went a little haywire. Here’s what Miami United had to say about it:
And here’s Miami Fusion’s response:
The truth is a bit impossible to suss out, as everyone involved is tied to one team or another. Miami Fusion says Miami United’s fans were violent. Miami United’s fans say they were provoked. What we do know is that despite the fact the game was suspended, the win was upheld for Fusion. We also know that these two teams will play again in just over a week. What we don’t know is if the game could be for the Sunshine Conference title.
There are still a few more dominoes that would need to fall into place before this scenario would exist, but it’s something every soccer fan in Miami-Dade County should keep a close eye on.