Southwest Florida and the Magic City don’t have much in common. Beside the palm trees, fantastic seafood, and a passion to preserve one of the world’s natural wonders the two areas aren’t alike. Don’t tell the Magic City based football clubs that. Both the Miami FC and FC Surge felt right at home bringing back all of the points across Alligator Alley.
FC Surge Dominate On The Road
The first contest got under way in Lee County at Ida Baker High School as the Florida Gulf Coast Dutch Lions squared off against Surge in WPSL play. The Dutch Lions have been off to a rocky start so far this season after finishing second in the sunshine conference last year. This match ended almost as quickly as it started with FC Surge striking early.
In the 15th minute the University of Miami product, Kristina Fisher, beat the Dutch Lion keeper and gave Surge the early lead. Fisher would not be done leaving her mark on the match. Just two minutes later Fisher would get an excellent feed from Villanova forward Brianna Austin and buried it in the back of the net. Fisher improved her season totals to three goals and five assists. In the 30th minute Austin would get on the score sheet herself for her second goal of the season.
The ladies from the Magic City would go into the half up three goals and keep the pressure going against the Dutch Lions. In a mere two minutes after the half East Carolina University’s Chrissy Gratz would bury her second goal of the season from the penalty spot and give Surge the four goal advantage. In the 62nd minute, the match would be delayed for a significant before ending by the same score line.
Miami FC Go Down Early
Just down the road from the Surge match, Miami FC would make a I-75 road trip of their own as they took on Naples United in Collier County. As we mentioned, Naples came into the match leading the sunshine conference in the NPSL being perfect through five matches. It was almost as if Naples read our match preview because their play throughout the match was quite similar to what we predicted would be their best route to a result.
After a ninety minute rain delay the match got underway at Lely High School. Over the first ten minutes neither team took the liberty of pressing the action as both Sunshine Conference heavyweights looked to build into the game. Miami would get their first solid attacking spell of the night twenty minutes in as Lloyd Sam looked to push the pace against Naples. The final ball alluded the Orange and Blue early as Naples did well to keep the play in front of them.
MFC players have found themselves with a target on their back from the opposition with constant physical challenges against them resulting in disciplines from the referee. In the 25th minute, Jonatan Fernandez would rough up Dylan Mares from behind earning a yellow card. Seven minutes later, Sebastian Vergara would put in a late tackle on John Neeskens and get a yellow of his own.
Just moments after Mohamed Thiaw was ruled offside on an attacking run, Naples would counter quickly and beat Mark Pais to notch the first goal of the night. Pablo Bonacassa would double his total on the season and put Naples in the lead early, shocking the Orange and Blue. The shock would wear off quickly as just moments before half time Mohamed Thiaw would be onside and find a streaking Miguel Gonzalez who tallied his 12th goal in the last six matches. The teams would go into the half tied and surely Naples would be disappointed from giving up the lead just prior to the whistle.
Miami Finds A Go-Ahead In 2nd Half
It would be all Miami FC after the kickoff to resume play in the second half. In the 49th minute Neeskens’ service would just miss an unmarked Lloyd Sam at the back post, nearly giving Miami the lead. Ten minutes later Sam would provide the service to Callum Chapman-Page who missed connecting on the ball from point blank range. The physical play would continue from Naples as they earned their third yellow card of the night in the 60th minute.
Miami would continue to dominate the second half but Naples would get a great opportunity in the 66th minute. The streaking forward would be denied by a diving Pais to keep the game level. The breakthrough would come in the 79th minute as Ariel Martinez, who entered the match in the second half, would dispossess Naples in the midfield. His run forward would open a passing lane to Miguel Gonzalez who found twine and gave Miami the lead.
In the 84th minute, things would begin to derail. After allowing a disappointing go-ahead goal the ugly side of the sport began to rear its’ ugly head in. After a scuffle a yellow card would be issued to Miami’s keeper Pais but a straight red was shown to Naples United’s Jose Antonio Valladares Hernandez. Sources close to the situation have told Magic City Soccer that the red card was issued for racial abuse against Miami’s centreback Jalen Markey.
The incident would leave an ugly stain on a fixture that should have highlighted the best of the NPSL’s sunshine conference. Miami would hold onto the lead through the final whistle and move top of the table in the Sunshine Conference.
The road ahead
Both clubs return home next weekend with pivotal fixtures in their quest of the playoffs. The Miami FC will faceoff again with Naples United, this time at Barry University. With no love lost between the two sides, the match will sure be an extension of tonight’s physical contest. Tickets are still available for Saturday’s contest and we are offering a giveaway which you can enter by listening to Episode 71 of our podcast.
FC Surge will take on Orlando Kicks FC (2-0-2) from Scheck Hillel Community School in Aventura on Sunday. The match will kickoff at 1PM and is open to the public. If Surge can earn victories in their next two home matches, they will likely find themselves in the WPSL playoffs.
We will be broadcasting both matches on MyCujoo this upcoming weekend so stay tuned to our social media for links to the streams.