Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A professional team loses its place among the professional ranks and the team has to find its way back to glory by ascending the ranks again beginning in an amateur league. Have you? No? I haven’t either, and it’s not a script that Hollywood would think to write off the cuff. It almost seems entirely opposite to the classic sports tale. But that’s where we find ourselves for this 2018 Miami FC 2 season.
We’ve chronicled the downfall of the NASL and where the chaotic offseason has left the club. We’ve also discussed the new faces that have been brought in after the exodus in the off-season. Let’s take an in-depth look at the new Miami FC 2 roster and forecast the season ahead.
The 2018 Roster:
Despite rumors that Miami would be looking for a new goalkeeper in the offseason, Mario Daniel Vega returns to lead the squad through the NPSL season. Ryan Herman and Lionel Brown also come back to the club vying to be the second option behind Vega. The Central Defense also returns as “The Law Firm of Bernstein & Trafford” look to lockdown the Sunshine conference. At the fullback positions is where Miami will have new faces. Gone are Borrajo, Farfan, Freeman, and Smith. Shawn Chin (Colorado Springs Switch), Sean McFarlane (Colorado Springs Switchbacks) have local ties to South Florida and have been brought in to round out the defense along with Tyler Polak (FC Cincinnati).
The midfield suffered the most casualties in the offseason as most of Miami’s dynamic players have found new homes around the world. Local flavor and years of professional experience have been brought in to offset the losses of Lahoud, Poku, Rezende, and Ryan. New to the midfield are local talents Manny Gonzalez (Fort Lauderdale Strikers), Stefano Fanfoni (Nova Southeastern Univ.), Tomas Greco (St. Thomas Univ.) and some from places not so near Don Smart (Indy Eleven) and Coy Craft (FC Dallas). Does the name Jeff Michaud ring a bell? Michaud comes to town after tallying two goals in back to back years against Miami with two separate clubs to round out the midfield. Fans will notice that Dylan Mares, Ariel Martinez, and Jonny Steele are the only holdovers from 2017. The new-look midfield could be the most pivotal part to MFC2’s campaign in the NPSL season.
The biggest sigh of relief for Miami fans might just be that the group of strikers hasn’t changed much. While Miami may have paid the ultimate price in losing the league MVP in Stefano Pinho (17G, 4A) to Orlando City, fan favorites Vincenzo Rennella (11G, 6A) and Jaime Chavez (10G, 9A) return for the NPSL campaign. Another player with local ties and professional experience, Aly Hassan (San Antonio FC), joins the roster to complete the attack.
What To Expect From 2018:
The truth is Miami FC 2 is the most experienced team in the NPSL’s Sunshine Conference. The standard of the NPSL should be far beneath the caliber of play for most of the players on the squad. Looking back at the 2017 NPSL campaign, the now defunct Miami Fusion steamrolled the conference going 11-1-0 with a plus-21 goal differential. Miami could easily surpass that mark this season without breaking much of a sweat.
In the preseason, MFC 2 amassed four victories over NPSL level opponents with a plus-18 goal differential. Their biggest test will come in the first two weeks as MFC 2 faceoff in the #MagicCityClassico versus cross town foes Miami United. These two have only met once before in a friendly match post Hurricane Irma with MFC getting the upper hand, but four of the goals coming from players who are no longer with the club. It is rare for matches to be considered “must-win” early on, but for both clubs, a pair of victories will go a long way to locking up the conference as these are arguably the best two teams NPSL teams in Florida.
Maybe Miami FC 2 is looking to write the story that Hollywood has yet to think of. Can you see the tag line? “Down on their luck professionals who have been shafted by the system find their way back to prominence”. A near flawless NPSL campaign and a deep open cup run (4th round or farther) might be all this organization needs to rid the stink of the 2017 off-season and a tale soon to be told on the silver screen. However, their biggest opponent might just be themselves.