If you expected the #MagicCityClasico to produce your rough and tumble derby, it was a disappointment. If you are into the “bad blood” storyline and enjoy when the beautiful game is played with an edge, this will be the fixture for you. Miami FC 2 host their comrades in exile, Jacksonville Armada in a match where both teams seek validity.
Armada fans don’t need a reminder of what the NASL’s 2017 season looked like against Miami. In four matches the Armada were outscored nine to zero and managed not to earn a single point. However, this is no longer 2017 and the NASL no longer exists as a sanctioned league.
The truth about this NPSL Sunshine Conference campaign is, no one really knows what to expect from the Armada. The proverbial dark horse, Jacksonville lost some of its notable players from 2017 like Miami, however their roster still features many of the same faces. Returning to the squad among others, Drew Beckie, J.C. Banks, and Derek Gebhard will look for retribution and to take a commanding lead in the NPSL Sunshine Conference.
This is the Armada’s first match in the 2018 NPSL and their preseason has been extensive. In a seven-match preseason, the Armada (2-2-3) squared off against opponents of all calibers. Narrowly losing to D.C. United (2-1) and holding their own against USL squads Indy Eleven and Charleston Battery, their best efforts came against collegiate opposition. When comparing their preseason and Miami FC 2’s string of matches, the Armada have definitely competed against tougher opposition.
It’s silly to call the third match of any campaign (even a season with only 12 matches) a must-win. However, after a pair of draws against Miami United, Miami FC 2 find themselves in this particular scenario. The margin for error has dwindled and the Armada are arguably the only other contenders in the title chase. Anything but three points will have Miami chasing and scoreboard watching for the next two months.
The injury bug has bitten the Blues early. Through two matches, Miami has yet to put out what could be their most talented lineup. Vincenzo Rennella has yet to start a match and Ariel Martinez has yet to be named to the squad as both have suffered injuries in training. Dylan Mares and Tyler Ruthven will be unavailable for Paul Dalglish as they are serving red-card suspensions from Act Two of the Clasico. It is unclear if the Blues newest signing Kris Tyrpak will be available for Saturday’s clash.
Anything less than an A+ effort will lead to the Armada sinking Miami FC’s title chances. Everyone knew coming into this season that the four matches against United and Jacksonville would go a long way to determining the result of the league. While MFC2’s best eleven may not be able to give it a go, there has to be efforts made by the supporting cast to keep Miami relevant in the title race.
Manny Gonzalez, Jeff Michaud, and Don Smart will have to support the firepower up front if Vincenzo Rennella is not able to go again. Juanito Gonzalez and Stefano Fanfoni may feature in place of Dylan Mares, where a playmaker is needed to release the forward up front.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how well this team has meshed together yet given that sixty minutes of the season have been played a man down. If Rennella and Martinez manage to play most of the game disregard the score prediction below. However, the Armada boast great showings in their pre-season games and if their tactics include a high press, that could be enough to torpedo Miami FC 2’s campaign.
Score Prediction Miami FC 2 1 – 3 Jacksonville Armada