When your club starts a season with a 3 match home-stand you usually send a thank you to the scheduling gods for giving them such a gift. FC Miami City fans are doing no such thing. Each of City’s first three matches have ended in heartbreak for the Ligue 1 affiliated side. Saturday’s match against North County United would prove no different.
The first fifteen minutes of the match would show that both teams would not be interested in pressing against each other despite the temperature and humidity being reasonable for a June evening in the Magic City. Despite both teams getting numerous looks at goal, neither club would get more than one shot in. It all changed in the 18th minute as former Florida International midfielder Darren Rios would open the scoring. In an effort that was at best struck poorly, the ball would trickle past all of United’s defense and find twine as the United defense made a mess of it.
City would be forced to make the first substitution of the game in the 23rd minute as Ahmed El-Ghof could not continue and would be replaced by Ismael Longo. One minute later, City would be issued their first card of the match as Rassambek Akhmatov would be booked for a diving challenge that kept his studs semi exposed in the middle of the field. In the 37th minute, Diego Hurtado would find himself in the referee’s books as well. The first half would come to a close with City holding a 1 – 0 lead over United despite a couple more chances for both sides.
In the quintessential tale of two half’s, City would come out of the locker room sluggish. United dominated the opening two minutes of play in possession and began to press City’s defense. With the chaos, City’s Marvin Hezel (Florida International) would play a horrendous back pass that keeper Antonin Lelievre could not catch up to. In an attempt to give up a penalty or in-direct free kick, Lelievre would dive and swat the ball off his own goal line, however the referee was not having any of it and awarded North County United the equalizer in the 48th minute.
City would get their best effort to equalize in the 60th minute as a strike from Longo would be parried away by United’s keeper and go out for a corner. City would find themselves desperate for another goal and leave themselves exposed on the counter. In the 69th minute, the nightmare would reappear for the City faithful as a turnover would force City to commit a foul 29 yards away from their own goal. The ensuing free kick would find United’s Ignacio Diaz in the box and his header would beat Lelievre to give North County the lead.
In true lower division soccer fashion, City would press constantly to find an equalizer. In the 93rd minute, a United player would find cramp and hit the field. While the United keeper was working on his teammates leg, the referee would issue a red card to City’s Sebastien Charron despite being nowhere in the area. To make things even more awkward, Charron finished the game on the pitch with no official announcement on whether the card was changed or revoked. City’s equalized would never come and Miami’s lone PDL entry would fall for the third straight match.
For Miami City, the next two games could shine some light on the PDL campaign while the club hits the road. First up will be Weston FC on Wednesday, followed by IMG academy on Saturday. Weston haven’t faired well so far dropping four of their five matches and IMG have been just a tad bit better. City will need six points out of these next two matches to have any chance of qualifying for the PDL playoffs and earn a birth in the 2019 Open Cup.