It feels like just about a fortnight ago that we discussed Miami and North Carolina FC. In fairness, it’s been ten days since these two clubs faced off in what was an exciting end to any soccer match. North Carolina were able to steal all three points from Miami by converting their third goal of the night from a set piece.
How have the two teams fared since that match on the fifth of August? Miami came back with a vengeance but suffered some setbacks in a 3-1 victory over the Indy Eleven. North Carolina could only manage a point in a 2-2 draw with the Jacksonville Armada.
We warned last week of the dangers of Nazmi Albadawi and how the recent goals were coming from their “unusual suspects”. Albadawi was controlled well by Miami’s midfield and defense as he couldn’t manage a shot throughout the entire match despite have 41 touches. It was the less notable players for NCFC that secured the three points as Glenn, Kandziora, and Ibeagha all got on the score sheet.
Miami will surely have learned their lessons from the match ten days prior. Steven Miller was a chances created machine chipping in with assists on the first two goals. Keeping Miller in check will go far in closing off NCFC’s multi-pronged attack.
Keep in mind that Stefano Pinho and Mason Trafford did not make the trip with the team. Trafford should return to the squad soon, however, the timeline or severity of Pinho’s ankle has yet to be released by the club. Lovel Palmer is set to be in the lineup tonight and will likely see the pitch for the first time. Rennella will make an appearance in tonight’s lineup but whether he is fit enough to start is another concern for Nesta.
NCFC has feasted before against the mix and match Miami line ups, and if Miami can’t get continuity early in the match expect more of the same. Miami’s midfield is they key tonight to controlling the pace and activating the attack more so tonight than ever before. The game could easily be decided on the quality of services that are provided by Richie Ryan and Dylan Mares. An early goal will be critical and key to Miami’s chances of taking points at WakeMed Soccer Park. Waiting until the last ten minutes of the game to get the attack going will definitely spell disaster for the Blues tonight.
I don’t see Nesta deploying a different formation than the usual 4-4-2 diamond or the 4-3-3. Given the injuries to the forwards and lack of depth up top, if there was ever a time to run a 4-3-2-1 or a 4-1-4-1 it would be tonight. Leaving Chavez up top and having Poku and Martinez might be Miami’s most comfortable formation, but I think we’ll see either Poku or Martinez in the left forward position (Martinez the likely candidate).
North Carolina FC 2 – 2 Miami FC