It is here, it is finally here. Welcome to the official start of the 2018 soccer season in the Magic City. As fate would have it, the first match pits two of our local clubs against each other. Local NPSL powerhouse Miami United get to take on the NPSL newcomers Miami FC 2. The #MagicCityClasico will surely be one of the determining factors of who moves on to the NPSL playoffs and tops the table at the end of the year. Let’s take a look at both teams that have a chance to lift the newest trophy in the battle for Miami.
Miami United FC:
Miami United are no strangers to fierce competition and often find a way to punch above their weight-class playing an off season friendly against Argentinian powerhouses River Plate and holding their own. As the season inched closer, Miami United entered the Romero Cup tournament, taking on some of Miami’s best amateur squads. United would run the table in group play finishing with a perfect 6-0-0 record and amassing a plus-27 goal differential. The semi-finals of the cup would prove no different as United would throttle, future U.S. Open Cup foe, FC Kendall 5-0. In the cup final, United would beat another U.S. Open Cup competitor Red Force FC 4-2.
Players to Watch:
David Ochoa and Tomas Granitto lead the way for United alongside Ezequiel Tejera. Ochoa was the top goal scorer in the pre-season tournament with 8 goals in five matches for United. Granitto comes to United with international and professional experience. Granitto has featured on El Salvador’s U-20 team and USL clubs Swope Park Rangers and Timbers 2. Tejera finds himself to be the elder statesman in the midfield. Starting in all 12 league matches in the 2017 NPSL campaign, the Argentine potted two goals and multiple assists for the pink and black while earning third team All-NPSL honors.
Miami FC 2:
While the organization doesn’t feature competition against international giants, Miami FC 2 bring a plethora of professional experience and talent into the NPSL’s sunshine conference. There have been few teams in the lower divisions to bolster this type of roster and the organization is out for vengeance after not finding a new home after the collapse of the NASL. In four preseason matches, Miami FC 2 tallied 20 goals and only allowed two while taking home victories in all four of their matches.
Players to Watch:
The fair question to ask for Miami FC 2 is “who shouldn’t we watch”? Dylan Mares has shined in the preseason and started the year on a blistering pace tallying four goals and two assists. Right behind him are newcomer Don Smart and fan favorite Vincenzo Rennella with three goals and two assists each. Miami United will no doubt be the biggest test so far for this new look MFC side. The defense anchored by Rhett Bernstein and Mason Trafford will need to be on their toes as United’s firepower is far superior to anything this club has seen so far in 2018.
The opening act of the #MagicCityClasico will undoubtedly provide fireworks and is the perfect stage to welcome soccer back to the Magic City. The key to this match will be a combination of Miami FC 2’s composure in their first appearance in the NPSL and how Miami United handles a potent attacking group from Miami FC. I can see both teams getting on the scoreboard, but Miami FC 2 taking this match due to experience.
Miami United 1 – 3 Miami FC 2