It has felt like an eternity since The Miami FC competed in the USL Championship (USL-C). How long has it been? 145 days. The 4-1 loss to St. Louis FC seems as if it belongs in a completely different season. Miami is the last USL-C club to return to action. Tonight will begin an unusually long sprint for the Orange & Blue where every match is crucial and picking up points is key. Over the next 68 days, Miami will have 15 matches to secure a spot in the USL-C Playoffs.
After speaking with Head Coach Nelson Vargas, Magic City Soccer learned that Miami will be traveling Atlanta on the day of the game. Unfortunately the travel plan does carry an inherent level of risk. That said, ground transportation would almost equal the amount of time that Miami plans to remain outside of South Florida. Miami’s plan will have them remaining in the ATL for less than 24 hours, and the 90-minute flight is likely to be taken with the upmost precaution. There is little doubt that MFC and the Atlanta United organization will do everything in its power to avoid another disastrous situation in professional sports linking the two cities (I.E. Miami Marlins).
Atlanta United 2 resumed the season 18 days ago and have not found much success early on. United has earned one point in the first three matches while conceding seven goals. The organizational turmoil, stemming from the firing of first-team head coach Frank De Boer, undoubtedly leaves an impact on the reserve team as well. United failed to score a single goal in its brief appearance in the #MLSisBack tournament. Atlanta fans called for an immediate change in its coaching staff, and the organization obliged.
Keys To A Miami FC Victory
Miami is prone to being rustier side in tonight’s contest. A three and a half month layoff can bog down even the finest tuned machines. The Orange and Blue have just started to field full side scrimmages within the past week to deploy its full tactics. Coach Vargas’ game plan has to be implemented flawlessly with each player aware of their responsibilities in Miami’s return to action.
Miami FC will go as far as its defense and Brian Sylvestre’s goalkeeping will take them. If there are any weaknesses defensively in this squad it is likely to come from the fullbacks. Miami has chosen to forego a traditional defender strategy on the wings, and deploy Othello Bah and Lloyd Sam on the flanks. It is important to note that Bah and Sam wrecked havoc on NPSL and NISA opponents with their attacking instincts and speed. The Championship is a few steps faster than the lower divisions, and Miami must have its fullbacks defensive abilities on par with their attacking prowess.
As previously mentioned, Atlanta has had a tough time on defense in its return to play. United has given up seven goals in the past three matches. Miami must be clinical in finishing its opportunities up front in order to put the game to bed early. Sebastian Velasquez and Romario Williams will be a threatening duo in the middle. Additionally, the Miami attack becomes even more dangerous with the forward runs of the aforementioned Bah and Sam. Miguel Gonzalez is no stranger to the championship either, having been in the league prior to joining Miami in 2019. Gonzalez has proven that he is able to score in bunches and is likely another key element in Vargas’ strategy.
One is likely to need a crystal ball with magical powers to figure this game out prior to kickoff. Miami has not had an opportunity to test its tactics against strangers given the ongoing pandemic. Atlanta, despite the poor showings, knows exactly where it stands and what it is are working with. Both teams will get on the scoreboard tonight. Short of a send-off or a very disappointing defensive outing, Miami should be able to steal points on the road. While a victory is the ultimate goal, a draw is also a great first step in the right direction.
Atlanta United 2 2-2 The Miami FC
At the time of writing Miami are the betting line favorite with a regulation win at +115. On the spread, both clubs are paying -115 whether you choose Miami at 0, -0.5 (half bet on draw half bet on win) or Atlanta on the reverse. Both teams to score is likely given the price offered by the books at -205. If you are looking for action tonight the smart play is on Miami’s Draw No Bet at -145.