Despite not walking away with a trophy in 2018, Miami United had one of their best seasons to date. Would a deep run in NPSL playoffs have been great? Of course. United, however, managed to make an impressive run through the 2018 U.S. Open Cup with a roster of genuine unknown players to the local soccer scene. 2019 proves to be a tougher challenge, however, the pink and black have a chip on their shoulder.
United caused significant problems for Miami FC early on in the 2018 season, grinding out two draws before bouncing the cross-town rivals out of the open cup in the 2nd round. In each of those matches newcomers to the pink and black proved pivotal. Nicolas Gorobsov, Victor Pelae, and Gabrielle Privitera found themselves playing key roles in each of the contests. Add two goals from David Ochoa in the open cup clash, and Miami United walked away laughing in the early part of the season.
Unfortunately, Miami United was unable to maintain the roster that caused Miami FC and the rest of the sunshine conference a ton of issues. Nicolas Gorobsov and Victor Pelae departed to Europe, Privitera is no longer on the Miami FC roster, and David Ochoa has reportedly been sidelined for the 2019 season as he continues to return from the injury sustained against Orlando City in the 4th round of the cup. It’s up to the new faces brought in by Roberto Sacca and manager Ferdinando De Matthaies to keep the gears turning.
John Montano, Bruno Camacho, Matheus Gaucho, Bryan Perea, and veteran journeyman Christopher Nurse (Puerto Rico FC). Among the new faces, Nurse is arguably the most touted having played throughout the leagues in England and in the NASL here domestically. The attacking midfielder has battles against Miami FC previously and is well aware of the level of talent they possess. Nurse will be the key to syncing play between United’s defense and attack. Expect the Guyanese international to find open passing lanes to feed his strikers and wingers.
Did you think the roster would be the only overhaul? Guess again. Miami United have announced just this past week that they will be switching venues and playing their home matches just south of the Aventura neighborhood of Miami. The former tenants of Milander park in the heart of Hialeah have moved east to North Miami Athletic Field located just outside of FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus.
This change has come rather last minute, United has reportedly spent quite a bit of money in refurbishing Ted Hendricks stadium. The club’s main complaint has been the status and maintenance of the venue, particularly the visiting locker rooms. For fans, the move provides a variety of dining options less than a mile from the stadium prior to the Saturday night kickoffs.
The regular season is likely to be decided within the first two weeks of the campaign. With back-to-back #MagicCityClasicos, it is crucial for Miami United to earn points of any kind against Miami FC. The defense will be the key to the season as they will be tested in each of the first two weeks. Darryl Gordon and Elisma Pierre will need to activate on the flanks not only on the attacking end, but also keep their heads on a swivel as the sunshine conference comes forward.
Miami United has played in three big friendlies during the off season. In January, United squared off against Urguayan giants Penarol, earning a 2-2 draw after a miraculous late game comeback. In early March, United bested the Puerto Rican National team 2-0 before defeating Honduran side Motagua in the same month 2-1. The roster has faced tough international competition and should be ready to fire on all cylinders once the whistle opens the 2019 NPSL campaign.
The roster as a whole will definitely not finish worse than 2nd in the 2019 NPSL Sunshine Conference Regular Season. Central Florida, Naples, Storm, and Jacksonville’s U-23 side will likely not be able to compete with the athleticism and composure that United has with this group of veterans and youngsters. If all goes as expected, United will host a Sunshine Conference semi-final and look to set up a date for a 3rd #MagicCityClasico this year.
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