Here we go again, the sixth edition of the Magic City Clasico is here. Just a year after heartbreak for Miami United, they have a chance at redemption. This season the NPSL Sunshine Conference was always going to come down to a battle of attrition between the two Magic City clubs. While Miami FC can be labeled as a goliath, Miami United surely doesn’t fit the mold of a David. The Magic City Cup will finally belong to one of these clubs, the only question that remains is, which one?
The Route To The Sixth Magic City Clasico
For Miami FC, the regular season went just about as well as they could have hoped. Undoubtedly, the front office would have enjoyed a longer U.S. Open Cup run. The response from Paul Dalglish and his squad has put that competition far in the rear view mirror. The Orange and Blue have won their last nine NPSL fixtures. They’re not just squeaking out wins either, with a plus-45 goal differential their average margin of victory is five goals per game.
Miami United have had the opposite stigma as of late. Over the past three years there has been a steady decline as the seasons wear on for the Pink and Black. Last year, United had a flurry of hiccups on their way into securing the final playoff spot in the Sunshine Conference. This year, dropping two matches late to the surprising Naples United made their road much harder. There have been no signs of slipping from Ferdinando De Matthaeis squad so far. Without an assistant coach and their first choice goalkeeper, United were able to defeat Naples when it mattered most on Wednesday.
The Keys To A Miami FC Victory
The FC roster is banged up. We haven’t seen a fully healthy roster for the Orange and Blue for quite some time. Ideally for Paul Dalglish, a full bench including Marco Franco and John Neeskens would be the best case scenario. In the semi-final Jalen Markey slotted in at left back in favor of Othello Bah. I fully expect Bah to start Saturday as his pace and his runs forward could create a barrage of opportunities for Miami FC.
Miguel Gonzalez has been quiet over the past two matches. The winger was scoring almost two goals per game for a solid stretch through the regular season. In the last two matches, Gonzalez has played 120 minutes and been kept off the score sheet. While Dalglish will not force feed any player, Mohamed Thiaw and Dylan Mares have to open up space for Gonzalez to get in behind the United defense. If the winger doesn’t convert it could spell disaster for the 2018 NPSL Champions.
The Keys To A Miami United Victory
United drew the initial blueprint on how to beat the Miami FC side. In the second match for the season, United deployed diagonal aerial balls bypassing the midfield. The ball placement in conjunction with the speed on the flanks gave Miami FC trouble early. After amassing a two goal lead, United put numbers behind the ball with Chris Nurse directing traffic in the midfield.
Nicolas Micoli and Matheus Gotler must open space in the midfield and attempt to stretch Miami FC’s centreback pairing. If they’re successful in doing so, runs from the midfield by Matias Solari could prove fruitful in getting to goal. Resorting to mucking it up and playing an overtly physical match against their cross-town rivals will be a disservice. Playing proper football is their best route to the NPSL South Region Semi-Finals.
While the hopes are that this match is a beautiful display of football, nothing in the past points to such. Each edition of the Magic City Clasico has been a rough and tumble affair. Miami United have the skill to compete with Miami FC in a proper match, probably more so than anyone else in the NPSL. If the pressure becomes overwhelming, this match will follow suit with the others. Either way, don’t expect a blow out unless the officials get involved.
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