It was surprising and yet at the very same time it was not. The Florida Soccer Soldiers will get their second round match against the Charlotte Independence (USL Championship) in just a few hours. The UPSL heavyweights from the Magic City held their own against the NPSL champions Miami FC just a week ago. Flash forward six days later, and the Soldiers are looking to make a FC Christos style run in the U.S. Open Cup.
For the local soccer diehards here in town, seeing the Soldiers in the second round does not come as a surprise. With a tactfully deployed high press and a goalkeeper that arguably deserves to be playing at a higher level, the Florida Soccer Soldiers get their first crack at a division 2 opponent. Bryant Martin displayed a masterful performance against Miami FC with acrobatic save after acrobatic save to keep the Soldiers in it come half-time. An errant pass and a wonderful effort from the edge of the penalty box was all the UPSL team would need to get to this point.
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 9, 2019
The Keys To A Florida Soccer Soldiers Victory
For the Soldiers, it can be easy to attempt to play a game of arithmetic between past opponent Miami FC and Charlotte Independence. The 16th placed Independence do not look as daunting on paper as the NPSL champions. On the table, they look even worse having earned a result in four of their ten matches. Don’t expect the Soldiers to buy into this type of logic.
Playing the same type of game that led to the victory against Miami FC has to be on the mind of manager Daniel Godoy. Deploying Valentin Sabella and Josduard Serrano out wide and causing havoc for the fullbacks of the Independence with slashing runs in the box will open up chances for Daniel Meneses and William Stamatis. The defense has to worry about the finishing qualities of the independence who have found the back of the net in five of their last six matches. Controlling the pace of play and keeping their composure like they did against Miami FC will carry this team a long way.
This will be the stiffest test that the Soldiers have ever faced. Make no mistake, despite Charlotte’s poor standing in the USLC-East, there is still talent on the side waiting to make a name for themselves. The soldiers need to control the first fifteen minutes of the game by opening passing lanes and not resorting for long balls over the top to the agile Sabella. Expect a close game, but at +700 odds placing a small wager on a massive value Soccer Soldiers is the play here. This will be a one-goal game either way.
Join Christian Gomez, Drew Housman, and Lee Ifans at Wynwood Brewery during a live broadcast of a Magic City Soccer podcast while taking in the match. If you cannot make the show, you can watch the Soccer Soldiers live on ESPN+.