Image: Orovio Photography
What. A. Ride. For those of you who have followed Miami F.C.’s journey with us, we can’t thank you enough. For those of you who are just seeing this for the first time, welcome to the club! We’ve had some real highs and lows together throughout the year. Poku beating Atlanta, 7-0 thrashing of the Deltas for the spring title, and Cincinnati coming to town and stealing the Open Cup Semi-Final from us have all led to this moment.
Miami gets to face off against the proverbial thorn in the side that is the New York Cosmos for a spot in the NASL Finals. Miami will come into this match in fine form as they have been unbeaten in their previous four matches. In what can be best described as tune-up matches, the past four weeks have proven to test the blues but also jump start some of their stars. Kwadwo Poku was welcomed back to the score sheet with two goals in a win over Edmonton last week. Jaime Chavez finds himself on the NASL team of the month with a stat line that would make a forward happy for a season in just one month. Vincenzo Rennella has found himself right back in the mix after coming off a long stay on the injured reserve.
New York comes into this match on a six game unbeaten run of their own that was necessary to secure the last spot in the NASL playoffs. After seasons that could be described as “un-cosmo like performances”, New York has been beat up on the non-playoff teams to finish the year. Sure its easy to get points against teams at the bottom of the table, however, it is not easy to run over teams with the score lines that the Cosmos have enjoyed in their previous matches which include 5-2 and 4-1 victories over Puerto Rico FC.
This could be the last match between these two franchises as the future of the NASL is up in the air. This showdown will be massive and was hopefully one that the league would have liked to have seen in the Soccer Bowl. Expect both teams to try and impose their style on each other at the gun. Mike Lahoud shared with the press scrum last week that Cosmos manager Savarese doesn’t like to change his tactics but will against Miami. To Lahoud, that is one of the ultimate signs of respect. We’ve seen the Cosmos employ a high press and narrow the space that Miami has to work through the midfield.
The midfield will unlock the answers for Miami F.C. on Sunday afternoon. If Miami can establish possession and get creation from Dylan Mares and Richie Ryan it will be a long night for Jimmy Maurer and the Cosmos. If the Cosmos force Miami into mistakes on the back end and pounce on sloppiness Miami’s wonderful season will be cut short without a happy ending.
We truly believe that Kwadwo Poku will emerge as the difference maker in this match. If Poku can gain separation from the Cosmos back line and slash through the middle of the field Miami should earn a spot competing for possibly the last NASL title. Miami will win Sunday night in a game that will swing back and forth and light the scoreboard.
Miami 3 – 2 Cosmos