The U.S. Open Cup is officially under the way with a pair of first-round matches taking place in Miami-Dade County. The Miami FC 2 and Miami United (both NPSL) will face off against a duo of local qualifiers in Red Force FC and FC Kendall. In matches that could easily become high scoring affairs, the firework alert is ringing loudly in Westchester and Hialeah. Before we breakdown the matches let’s take a look at how each club has gotten here.
Beginning with Red Force FC (APSL), the road to the Open Cup has seen them navigate what should be the difficult waters of open qualifying. The family operated club would find the waters quite calm while notching lopsided victories versus FC Ginga (8-1), and a referee shortened game against Miami Nacional (5-0). The final qualifying fixture would be the toughest test for Red Force as they took on a local rival in South Florida FC (APSL). The match would go into extra time with a late goal from forward Scott Gordon, allowing Stiven Salinas to get Red Force into the tournament with a goal in extra time.
FC Kendall (APSL), would run an arguably more difficult gauntlet into the tournament. Despite having similar margins of victories to Red Force, the road to the Open Cup was far lengthier. In the first round of qualifying Kendall would railroad Leu Blacks FC (UPSL) by a score line of 11-0. Unable to win a hosting spot for the second round, Kendall would go on a road trip to central Florida and defeat the Orlando Storm (CFSL) 4-0. Another long journey would be cast on the club as they were placed in one of the worst geographical draws in Open Cup qualifying history, having to travel to Nashville to take on Nashville United. With a gofundme campaign to raise funds for the lengthy trip, “the most important game in club history” according to owner Grignola was a success. Battling travel fatigue and bad weather, Kendall sealed their first Open Cup appearance on the back of a 4-2 win.
In a rather interesting note, these two clubs would find themselves squaring off against each other just days before their Open Cup matches. Despite going into the half tied at one, it would be all FC Kendall in the last 45 minutes of the APSL fixture tallying another three goals to win the contest 4-1. FC Kendall’s Gonzalo Mujica would be named our man of the match for his performance in the clash.
As for the NPSL clubs, Miami United and Miami FC 2 both have an interesting route to the tournament. Going into the initial qualifications of the 105th edition of the cup, neither team had actually earned a birth into the cup. Miami United had finished second on the 2017 NPSL sunshine conference and Miami FC was facing sanctioning issues with the collapse of the NASL. United would be granted their spot in the tournament when 2017 Sunshine Conference champions Miami Fusion ceased operations for the 2018 season. A strong lobbying effort by the Miami FC organization and other NASL exiles, proved fruitful as the USSF granted Miami, Jacksonville, and the New York Cosmos spots in the tournament’s play-in round. Miami FC would vanquish FC Miami City (PDL) 3-1 to qualify for the first round.
Miami FC 2 finally had all their cylinders firing for the first time this season in Saturday’s match against Miami City. The new additions to the club in Kris Tyrpak and Dario Suarez have proved resourceful as both players factored in the scoring. Boasting more professional experience than the other three Magic City based squads, Miami is the best equipped to handle adversity and a wide variety of competition. Going into their match against Red Force, Miami will be out the services of striker Jaime Chavez. Miami will need to keep the multi-pronged attack of Rennella, Typrak, Smart, and Michaud going if they want to outlast Red Force in a match that can light up the scoreboard.
Miami United come into the first round of the tournament atop the Sunshine Conference Table. Coming off two clean-sheet performances against Naples United and Boca Raton, United have combined for seven goals in their two previous outings. Tomas Granitto, Nicolas Gorobsov, and David Ochoa look to lead the way for United as the trio have accounted for six of those seven goals. Handling FC Kendall may prove to be quite a challenge as the club may be the stiffer of the two local qualifiers given Sunday’s APSL result.
Miami FC 2 4 – 1 Red Force FC
Miami United FC 3 – 2 FC Kendall
Despite an impressive run in qualifying for both of the APSL clubs, I just can’t see either club getting the best of their opponents. Unfortunately for Red Force and Kendall, a PDL club or your normal NPSL club would be a far better opponent in the first round. Neither MFC2 or United are standard as both boast a roster that is unusual of the NPSL. Both NPSL clubs have professional experience throughout their roster and that experience will be just enough to set up the third act of the #MagicCityClasico.
Tickets are still available for both matches as they will both kick off at 7PM.