Image Courtesy of The Miami FC 2
Act Two of the #MagicCityClasico did not go as planned for anyone involved. What should have been a coronation for one of these clubs ended in carnage and disappointment for everyone involved. However, the city showed up for the intense second match and Bobcat field was just as vibrant, if not more so, than Riccardo Silva Stadium.
The beginning of the match picked right up where Act One left off. Miami FC 2 were determined not to let Miami United get off to a hot start, and they managed to quell all Miami United efforts. The first chance for the Blues came in the 5th minute but the assistant referee raised his flag on Jaime Chavez putting the striker offside.
Four minutes later, Jeff Michaud would open his Miami FC account and put the Blues on the board in the 9th minute. It was all MFC2 there after as well as Don Smart almost blasted home a second for MFC 2 after an excellent buildup in play. Coy Craft and Tyler Polak were completely different players than in their first showing, absolutely dissecting through the Miami United midfield and defense throughout the first 25 minutes.
The game would get extremely physical shortly after as Tyler Ruthven ran down and cleared a ball off the flank. For his efforts, Ruthven would take contact and collide with the side barrier, staying down for a few moments. Returning to the game after not having a discipline issued against the Miami United forward, Ruthven would find himself in the crosshairs of the referee.
While attempting to deliver a throw-in, Ruthven would be carded for time wasting and immediately be issued a second yellow and ejected from the game for criticizing the referee. MFC2 would make an immediate substitution ending Manny Gonzalez’ night for Shawn Chin to man the right back position for the next 57 minutes.
United would get back into their attacking mode from Act One, with the aid from being up a man for an extended period of time. In the dying moments of the first half, United earned a corner and elected to play a low ball into the heart of the six-yard box. After a few deflections it would land on the feet of Elusma Pierre and he would blast it into the top netting to level the match.
The second half would continue to show the tempers flaring for both sides. United pressed hard and often looking for the opportunity to strike ahead in the match and take a commanding lead in the NPSL campaign. Paul Dalglish would have none of it, giving his squad Jose Mourinho-like tactics shutting down each and every United effort. Despite being up a man, United would be unable to get off more than a couple of shots from inside the technical area, with most shots coming from distance and sailing high and wide.
More yellow cards were produced with the first 25 minutes of the second half and we would see the early stages of the game beginning to unravel. In in the 71st minute, Sean McFarlane would produce an excellent run down the left hand flank getting past most of United’s defense. United’s Max Rodriguez took exception to the galloping effort and came in from behind with a dangerous sliding challenge. Rodriguez would be disciplined with only a yellow to the dismay of Miami FC 2 players and supporters.
The teams would trade chances with United desperately trying to get the game winning goal through the end of the ninety minutes. The tempers would boil over on the final plays of the game as Dylan Mares cut through the middle of the field earning a free kick with seconds left on the match from 23 yards out. After a players association meeting, a brawl would ensue where the referee would stay far away from the mayhem taking place around the area of the foul. Bryan Martin, the United goalkeeper, shoved his way forward into the scrum and was proceeded to be thrown down by Dylan Mares.
Vega would find himself playing peacekeeper coming all the way from his own net 70-some yards down the field in an effort to bring the game to a close. Three red cards would be produced despite the official showing the red card visibly to only Dylan Mares and Bryan Martin. United’s Pierre would be ejected as well bringing the game to nine on nine action. After a few more moments, the set piece would finally be taken and sailed over the bar bringing the game to an end.
A match that should have been a celebration of the strength and resolve of soccer in South Florida was marred by questionable officiating that derailed the meeting between Miami’s biggest soccer sides. Now the clubs, fans, and the city are left wondering what the result of the #MagicCityClasico would have been had the match not been overshadowed by an overzealous official who made himself the biggest story of the day. The match official declined to address a hard challenge on Ruthven and lost the plot when he found himself unable to bring order after a scuffle between the players. All in all, seven yellow cards and four red cards were handed out over 90 minutes, the highest ever in a contested Miami FC match.
These two clubs could meet one last time this season, where a draw cannot take place. Should Miami FC 2 and Miami United both qualify for the second round of the U.S. Open Cup, Act Three of the derby would force the teams to go into a shootout if a winner cannot be decided over 120 minutes. Surely the possibility of meeting up for the third time is something that both teams would relish the opportunity for.
After the match Miami FC 2 manager Paul Dalglish shared his thoughts on Act Two of the #MagicCityClasico. See his thoughts on Act Two below:
Editor’s Note: Abel Iraola (@MiamiAbel) contributed to this story.