Miami United were the center of soccer attention in Miami-Dade County, hosting defending Uruguayan champions Peñarol. After a shaky start, United rose to the occasion and earned a 2-2 draw with the Carboneros.
The shaky start, and most of the struggles United faced on the night, was thanks to Rodrigo “Loly” Piñeiro. Twice Piñeiro found the back of the net, first in the fourth minute with a classy finish of a low cross, and then again in the 39th minute with an inch-perfect header.
In truth, Peñarol had the best of the first half, creating many more opportunities to score and generally controlling possession. However, Miami United survived an intense 20 minutes of attack from Peñarol at the start of the game, and except for Piñeiro’s second header, mostly kept their head above water.
Much of the credit for United staying in the game belongs to Peterson Occénat, who made a series of eye-popping saves, including a remarkable double-save in the second half to keep Miami United’s hopes alive.
It took 76 minutes for Miami to strike, but they made it count when they finally got their chance. First, Juan Fuenmayor converted a header from a free kick that came after a sloppy Peñarol turnover. Then, before most fans could finish celebrating the Fuenmayor goal, Christopher Nurse rose up and placed a header in the top-right corner of the net. It was 2-2, and now it was Peñarol chasing the result they wanted.
Opportunities for the third goal did come, but that goal wouldn’t come for either side. It was a 2-2 draw that felt like a win for Miami United and a missed opportunity for Peñarol. But for the fans of both teams, the cheering wouldn’t stop until far after the final whistle.