Miami FC Win Sunshine Conference Regular Season Title; Sink Armada 4-1

If the Miami FC expected a stroll in the park against the Jacksonville Armada U-23 side on Saturday, they were sorely mistaken. Aaron Pitchkolan’s men were ready to frustrate Miami at every turn. Despite getting off their early signature early lead, Paul Dalgish’s Orange and Blue found themselves in a contested first half of football. The Armada deployed similar tactics to Naples, however, could they close?

First half

Miami dominated the first ten minutes of the contest pushing the play wide with a make-shift starting line-up. Shawn Chin and Lloyd Sam put on a clinic down the right hand side stretching the Armada defense. Ariel Martinez was deployed in a false 9 role flanked by Dario Suarez on the left and Chin.

In the seventh minute, a build up of play down the left with Othello Bah and Suarez ended with Martinez being taken down just paces outside of the penalty area. Martinez would pull rank and take the free kick forcing the Armada keeper to parry it. Unfortunately, the deflection would land at the feet of Callum Chapman-Page who ripped it into the empty net for the first of the night.

Jacksonville would look to catch Miami on the counter while the Orange and Blue pushed numbers forward. Sam would be called upon to make a series of tackles in order to avoid an early response as Miami pushed numbers forward for their corner of the night. In the fifteenth minute, Jacksonville would push the pace again earning a penalty after a Chapman-Page put in a frantic dive to contest an unmarked Armada striker.

Miami’s goalkeeper would save his second penalty attempt of the season diving to his left to keep the Armada at bay. Unfortunately for Pais, on the continuous of play, Armada’s Eoin Hunter benefitted from a slight deflection to bring Jacksonville even on an effort from 30 yards out.

The match would not be tied for long as Miami pushed to equalize in a hurry. In the 20th minute, Tomas Granitto sprung forward and found Martinez outside of the area. Martinez used a few shot-fakes to get past the last defender and pull the goalkeeper of his line. His ground cross would find Dario Suarez on the backpost who tapped it past the goal line.

The play would slow after Miami’s second goal of the night as both teams seemed to wear down in the humidity. Miami kept numbers back while trying to build play on the flanks which the Armada did well to defend. The Armada would be unable to collect any dangerous changes of their own before the referee blew the whistle for half time.

Second Half

The Armada came out on the front foot after the whistle looking to build up play from the back. The route one approach had failed throughout the first half and the visitors looked to stretch Miami wide. Unfortunately, the tactics wouldn’t amount to any goals but did earn the Armada a couple of corner kicks which were cleared routinely by Miami.

In the 61st minute, Mohamed Thiaw and Dylan Mares would enter the match looking to secure Miami’s second straight regular season title. Their impact would be felt almost immediately as Miami’s attacking intensity rampened up. With quick exchanges between the two substitutes and Martinez, the Armada goalkeeper would be busy. In the 76th minute, Shawn Chin would find Mares with a ball that allowed him to build into the 18-yard box. His shot would beat the Armada low and left for Miami’s third goal of the night.

In the 78th minute, Miami would get their fourth of the night and Suarez would earn his brace. Mares would get an initial feed from Suarez then find Thiaw inside the box. Thiaw, with eyes on the back of his head, found Suarez and his effort would beat the Armada keeper.

The Road Ahead

NPSL Sunshine Conference Playoff Bracket
NPSL Sunshine Conference Playoff Bracket

These two teams will face-off again in the NPSL Sunshine Conference Semi-Final. The match will take place on Wednesday July 10th at Barry University. Miami will surely be wary of the Armada counter-attack in an effort to cement their place in Saturday’s Conference Final. On the other side of the bracket, Naples secure home-field advantage against Miami United. It will be a case of deja-vu for the Black and Pink as they will return to Naples after their loss on Saturday.

Should Miami FC continue their winning ways, they are ensured home-field advantage through the National Semi-Finals (five matches). With the New York Cosmos victory over the Kingston Stockade, they will have home-field advantage through the National Finals should they advance through each round. 

Click here to get your tickets to watch The Miami FC begin their playoff run against Jacksonville


  1. Pingback: Miami Beat Armada 4-0; Magic City Clasico Up Next - Magic City Soccer

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