It wasn’t easy under the floodlights of the Bob for Miami FC 2 on a steaming hot Tuesday night in Miami. A very useful Atlanta Silverbacks squad was in town for more NPSL playoff soccer. Atlanta were the strongest side to come to the 305 all season and they might feel like they could have got something out of this very even game, but Miami’s unbeaten run continues.
There wasn’t much turnaround following the 3-1 defeat of arch rivals Jacksonville Armada. A little less than 72 hours after that triumph in the Sunshine Conference playoff final it was back to business against the Silverbacks in the south area semi-final. Mercifully, this was the last possible midweek evening kick off this season. The FC faithful were still filing in during the first 10 minutes, but they didn’t miss much. Both sides were trading jabs and feeling each other out.
The quick return to action hadn’t helped the pitch, which was still a little cut up from the weekend. Jeff Michaud lost his footing in a good area which sprung a promising counter from Atlanta, fortunately that came to nothing. Then Vega was almost caught out by a harmless shot spooning up off a divot. He did well to adjust his footing to swipe the ball over the bar.
It was Sean McFarlane who blew the contest open with a sumptuous left foot finish after a lovely set piece routine. From a corner Mares played it short to Chavez. Jaime sent the ball backward to Martinez who took one touch and measured a ball perfectly for McFarlane, the big Jamaican burying an unstoppable volley past Billington in the Atlanta goal. The keeper had no chance.
FC threw the Silverbacks a lifeline though. Atlanta were forced into an early sub, it may have been tactical or through injury, but Thierry Jules replaced Kebba Demba and instantly changed the game. A huge center forward, he capitalized on sloppy play from Miami and fired home from close range after Ruthven and McFarlane had failed to cover their zones in defense to leave him totally unmarked. It was a lack of concentration from FC and they were punished for it.
Miami threw on Tyrpak and Brian James for Steele and Mares at half time. Steele did well but it looks like he’s still getting his match fitness back after a long lay off. It probably came down to a choice between sacrificing Dylan or Ariel for Tyrpak. Not an easy call for Dalglish but FC badly needed Tyrpak’s technical ability in the final third of the field. James did well in his 45 minute cameo. The youngster confidently slotting into a deep-lying midfield role, he hardly put a foot wrong. But once again Kris Tyrpak would put his name up in lights.
With time waning and extra time looking likely the referee sent off Atlanta’s David Koloko for a robust tackle on McFarlane. There was some meat in it but no malice. The challenge was borderline but a red was probably harsh. Miami have been on the receiving end of some contentious cards this season themselves, this time it was our turn to be on the upside of it.
From close to the corner flag on the right flank, fellow substitute Tomas Greco whipped over an inviting left-footed in-swinger. Greco had put it at the perfect height to attack and Tyrpak beat the sluggish keeper to the ball. It seemed to take an eternity to cross the line but it was the match winner. FC comfortably negotiating the remaining time to book their place in the South Final. That game is Saturday 21st at 7pm against Little Rock Rangers, who had surprisingly knocked off Laredo Heat in the other semi. Tickets are available by clicking on this link!