The Magic City Clasico entered its fourth act Saturday night on the campus of Barry University. In the previous three contests, Miami United excelled at frustrating The Miami FC. The rough tackles, the willingness to go to ground, and the physicality all carried over from 2018. There was absolutely zero love lost between the two sides. Unfortunately for United, the 2019 version of Miami FC responds to adversity far better.
The game got underway under clear skies and a raucous crowd, with over 1,200 showing up for the NPSL Sunshine Conference opener. It was Miami FC getting the majority of the possession early on, yet, heartbreak would set in during United’s first attacking threat. Miami FC would suffer a disaster far worse than an allowing an early goal.
Robert Baggio Kcira was involved in covering United winger John Montano. After failing to dispossess Montano on his initial tackle, Kcira stepped back in and placed his right leg in an awkward angle. Kcira collapsed to the pitch holding his right knee and was immediately subbed off although he managed to walk off under his own power. Head coach Paul Dalglish commented after the game that an MRI would be taken on Sunday, and the club hoped to get Kcira back in the side this season, but the extent of the injury is unknown as of this time.
Miami FC seemed to be distracted in the next couple of minutes of play after the injury, and rightfully so. In the 12th minute, Miami would find their first chance off a corner. Jalen Markey made his presence felt by rising above the rest of the players at the edge of the six-yard box and putting his header just wide. The physicality would come early after the 20th minute after Elusma Pierre took down an elusive Mohamed Thiaw. A few minutes later Miami FC would begin to have their composure questioned with a rash challenge on the edge of their own box by Markey. He’d be given the second yellow card of the contest and the ensuing freekick would not test Miami FC keeper Mark Pais.
United would continually frustrate FC by having three players always in the presence of captain Dylan Mares. Mares’ touches were limited through the first half and the passing lanes were virtually nonexistent. Dario Suarez would change the entire complexion of the match with a strike from distance in the 34th minute. A United counterattack was snuffed out by a well-timed tackle from Brenton Griffiths. After a couple of touches, Mares was found in the center-circle all alone and found Dario Suarez in stride. Suarez, after a few touches, was able to open up and put a strike into the far corner past United keeper Occenat Peterson.
The second tally on the scoreboard would come from former Miami United midfielder Tomas Granitto. Two minutes into stoppage time of the first half, Miami FC’s corner effort would be cashed in. Granitto would pull off one of the rarest feats in soccer, scoring an “Olimpico.” Miami would head into the half with a two-goal cushion and would see the rest of the match through.
Mares would find his comfort zone after drifting into a wide role for the rest of the match. His ability to find space combined with his vision caused fits for United all night. Thiaw was almost credited with an assist on two different occasions from Mares, whose effort missed the target. Thiaw almost opened his Miami FC account a few times as well throughout the second half. He will certainly be a problem for most teams to contend with through the 2019 season and U.S. Open Cup.
The fifth act of the Magic City Clasico takes place next Saturday as the teams switch home venues. Miami United will need to right the ship if they want a chance at winning the Magic City Cup. Tickets are still available for the match at Miami United’s new home, North Miami Athletic Field. You can purchase your tickets by clicking here. Stay tuned for our preview of act five coming later this week.