The NPSL has proven to be a tough league to understand in the early stages of the 2018 season. Sure, we may have fond memories of the NASL and the whole “division two” thing, but it’s time to accept that those days are long gone. Miami versus Jacksonville was the showing that, no matter what competition these two clubs find themselves in, there is still very little love lost between both sides.
I mentioned in the game preview that I expected the Armada to win handedly should Miami be without the services of Vincenzo Rennella and Ariel Martinez. Both were named to the starting eleven for the first time this season and I quickly made amends with my prediction prior to kick-off. However, Rennella would find himself playing out of position in the midfield as Kris Tyrpak and Don Smart manned the wings.
The early moments were similar to the first match of the season against United. Despite having more games as a unit, Miami FC still looked a little off kilter in the first ten minutes. In the 13th minute, McFarlane executed a nifty cutback after being a fed a ball just behind the top of the technical area. The effort at net surely would have made the F2 go mad, with his curling effort just barely over the bar.
Miami would keep pressing for the first twenty-five minutes of the match with Rennella consistently linking play with Martinez and Michaud. One of these connections would unleash Don Smart, yet his opportunity to bring Miami ahead would be blocked and send Jacksonville the other way. After a spell of possession around the Miami technical area, the Armada would earn a corner.
The corner was played short as Yuma and Christian Silva would go to work against McFarlane on the left flank. After numerous passes back and forth Silva would find enough space to fire a cross into the box. The header would be redirected towards the back post and find Ciaran Kilduff who would proceed to be stuffed by Daniel Vega, yet the rebound would fall to Wesley Charpie giving the Armada the lead in the 26th minute and their first goal against Miami since October of 2016.
Prior to restarting the match controversy would ensue as Miami pleaded with the referee and his assistant that Charpie was offsides after Vega’s initial save. At first look, perhaps there was an argument for the Armada. Using our footage you will see that Charpie was in fact ahead of the last defender, but the goal would stand.
Miami sprung to life for the final twenty minutes of the half with a barrage of chances coming from Tyrpak, Smart, and Chavez. The best opportunity came at the dying moments of the first half as Tyrpak found himself with a great look on a header. His effort would be cleared on the line by Jerome and send the game into half time.
It was all Miami in the beginning moments of the second half. The Blues applied heavy pressure finding McFarlane and Smart down the flanks time and time again. Forcing the Armada to reconsider their compact high line, Rennella and the rest of the midfield went to work carving away at the Armada’s defense. In the 61st minute, a throw in to Tyler Polak is shifted neatly over to Chavez. As Chavez charges into the box he lays it forward for Martinez who beats Brian Holt to bring the game level at one each.
The rest of the match would result in a few chances for both sides but perhaps none better than for Tyrpak. Determined to make a name for himself in his first appearance for the Blues, his third shot on target came off a volley that forced Holt to make a highlight reel save to keep the game even. The game would end in a draw with each team tallying a goal.
For Miami, this match would be their third straight draw in the NPSL season, each of which having a final score line of 1-1. A win would have solidified their place at the top of the sunshine conference. Miami now must earn three points on the road and hope for a pair of draws in the Armada’s fixtures against Miami United to obtain a firm grasp on a playoff spot.
We spoke with Miami manager Paul Dalglish to get his thoughts on the match. Click below to hear his thoughts on the match and how the team is ready to get their 2018 U.S. Open Cup campaign underway.