Lee Ifans
Lee Ifans

Lee Ifans is a former amateur player and expert in the game of football. Originally from Wales, fate has brought Lee to the Magic City. You can contact Lee at ifans.mcs@gmail.com.

United Halt Soldiers’ Advance

Miami United, playing in the 2020 Open Cup qualifying tournament under their U-23 banner, edged out Florida Soccer Soldiers 2-1 in an enthralling encounter at Orange Bowl Field, Ives Estates Park on Sunday evening.

A clear and dry fall evening in this part of Miami, not that you would know it by the soaring temperature and high humidity, an unseasonably warm day for mid-October that delivered a red hot game of soccer for the 150 fans in attendance.

Soldiers started on the front foot, wrenching the ball from United and enjoying the majority of early possession. Andres Ruiz de Somocurcio and Jose Boggio in particular enjoying plenty of time on the ball and Josduar Serrano making some trademark runs from his full back position down the right flank. But there were few clear cut chances created as Miami United’s experienced back line kept Soldiers #9 Bryan Perea very quiet.

As the half wore on Miami United began to grow into the game with their physical edge beginning to show. They were starting to give Soldiers less and less time on the ball with a lot of pressing and hard, but fair, tackling. Soon, United were rewarded with the game’s first goal, Matias Solari forcing the ball home from close range after a corner caused chaos in the penalty area.

The second half started as the first finished. Soldiers struggling to keep the ball and get their passing game going. United were happy for this to continue and protect their one goal lead. With time running out Soccer Soldiers went a bit more direct with their play and got their breakthrough. Perea was finding more and more space in the final third and got the equalizer with a great finish, latching on to a through ball from midfield.

Extra time looked to be certain with less than 15 minutes left to find a match winning goal. Soldiers looked the more likely of the two teams to find it. United can thank goalkeeper Omar Soto for keeping the scores level with a few good saves. The high standard of the play for the whole game really underlined the quality present at this level in South Florida.

Two minutes into injury time at the end of the second half disaster struck for the team that captured everyone’s hearts with their run in the 2019 competition. With a huge gap gaping down the left hand side, United went raiding into the space and a perfect cross was swung over for Nicolas Micoli to thump a free header into the net from point blank range. The contingent of Miami United supporters cheered a great goal that sees their team head into the third qualifying round to play Hurricane FC of Delray Beach, who hammered Orlando Wolves 7-1.

Ever Ready?

Another tease on squad building from IMCF HQ. A late night meeting to pitch to another player, the kind of effort which can probably only mean it’s another potential Designated Player target. But does this contain a clue big enough to connect the dots back to the possible target?

I am an empanada enthusiast and who isn’t? And who doesn’t love Graziano’s? Product placement or a hint to the player’s nationality? Let’s assume the latter. An Argentine DP for IMCF makes a massive amount of sense. Anyone who gets out to games in Miami knows that Argentineans show up for soccer and they love being in a stadium watching the game live. South Florida may not have the big numbers of Argentineans as it does Cubans, Colombians or Venezuelans but you can’t go to a game without seeing a River or Boca jersey or maybe someone chilling with their maté. A lot of names have been touted as striking options but if you are IMCF you would absolutely be looking at filling your #10 jersey with a DP. The #10 jersey is always a great thing to see on the back of an Argentine player. Maradona… Messi…

Looking at the profile of Cavani as a target. Is there someone out there with a contract expiring, a big enough profile to wake people up and who would be stellar in MLS? Why yes there is and that man is Éver Banega.

Banega is the kind of technician that the team needs in the midfield engine room. A wonderful player on the ball capable of creating chances and controlling the game. He is a fantastic playmaker. Coming to the end of his career in Europe in La Liga with Sevilla he was the player Unai Emery built his Europa League winning team around. The rumours in the Spanish press are that Los Rojiblancos might be looking to cash in early. Turkish club Galatasaray had a little interest while the transfer window was open. What this means is that for a few million dollars IMCF might be able to land Banega in the winter market, so he could join up with the franchise for the start of the MLS season.

It’s a move that makes a lot of sense for the club but possibly the player as well. Banega is currently 31 years old so the security of a 3-4 year contract on a DP salary might turn his head. Éver might also be considering a return to his home country but the unique challenge of being the main man in the 305 is something that might very well interest him at this stage in his career. The possibilities are there. Might you find yourself in line at Graziano’s in 2020, turn around and see Señor Banega? Maybe.

Is Cavani “Edin” for Miami?

Cavani considering his options as his career continues. Could Miami be a destination? Photo: cavaniofficial21 - Instagram

Edinson Cavani is one of my favorite players. In the modern game reliable goalscoring centre forwards are hard to find, especially at the top level. It’s a simple joy for a football fan to watch a player who just loves to score goals. And score good goals too. We’ve all had that player we wanted to emulate when we were a kid. For me it was the great Mark Hughes. For Cavani himself it was the phenom Gabriel Batistuta. Could kids in the 305 begin idolizing the Uruguayan marksman? It all stems from this, A follow on twitter.

April 2019 Magic Six

What a month of soccer we’ve had in this part of the world. Who caught the eye in April’s Magic Six?

Bryant Martin – GK – Florida Soccer Soldiers

OK I was going to put Bryant in before his heroics in the Open Cup. What an absolutely fantastic display that was but if you’d been watching our streams you’d already have known all about him. A fantastic keeper who is an incredible shot stopper and great at one-on-ones as we saw in the game vs Red Force.

Ferdinando De Matthaeis – COACH – Miami United

In the NPSL Sunshine season opener the result went with the form book and Miami FC won 2-0. Many expected a similar result in the second half of the Magic City Clasico. They were wrong. United scored two goals of their own and kept it tight at the back and the main man is who they have to thank. Ferdy got his tactics 100% spot on at North Miami Athletic Stadium. The tactical tweaks of playing in behind FC’s backline and utilizing his side’s strengths by playing a lightning fast counter attack game was top quality coaching.

Marc Duroscar – MF – Palm Beach Spartans

In the top of the table clash between PSL United SC and the Spartans the Spartan Army found themselves trailing 2-0 and staring at a defeat. That is until coach Cheddi Johnson introduced Marc Duroscar. He came on and changed the game with a goal and assist, rescuing a point for his team mates.

Rian Jamai – FW – Port St. Lucie United SC

If you were ever lucky enough to watch Ryan Giggs play then that is exactly what you get with Rian Jamai. Everything down to wearing the #11 jersey. A classy player that glides along the pitch, creates chances and scores great goals too. One to watch for the future. He’s just 18 years old!

Hialeah City FC

Going to put the whole team in for the fifth pick. After a shaky start to the season, the Blue Fury went on a 5 game unbeaten run which is no easy feat in the UPSL Dade Division. It looks like they are really gelling into a good side now. Lots of attacking weapons on the lineup and they are much more disciplined at the back.

Pwayko Skybank – FW – Breakers AFC

Not been an easy season so far for the Dudes but they finally got a win in April thanks in part to a brace from the spectacularly named Skybank in their matchup with Palm Beach Flames. The Breakers need to keep scoring to sneak into the playoffs and have a decent looking run of games to round out the regular season. Pwayko will need to keep his shooting boots on.

Miami FC v Florida Soccer Soldiers: Previewing The Open Cup Match

The matchup that fans of the lower leagues in South Florida have been wanting for the last year is finally here. Today is the day two of the finest teams in the state go toe-to-toe in a competitive game. A US Open Cup first round encounter that sees NPSL champions Miami FC against UPSL national finalists Florida Soccer Soldiers.

March 2019 Magic Six

Soccer is back! March saw the return of the UPSL with the 2019 spring season getting under way from Port St. Lucie to Kendall. These Magic Six caught the eye in the opening couple of weeks…

Franco Guglielmucci – FW – PSL United SC

Franco writes his own scripts. When Boca and Chad Johnson came to town, Franco turned in a man of the match performance and created the winning goal in PSL’s first UPSL game breaking the hearts of the Rat Pack and Ochocinco.

Jean Paul Garcia – GK – Atletico Miami CF

Having lost their opening two games in the UPSL, Atletico Miami put themselves in the driving seat in their third game against Miami AC with two early goals. Then they gave AC a lifeline – a penalty. Garcia saved low to his right and kept it out. Atletico went on to win 3-2 but they can thank Jean Paul for getting 3 points instead of 1.

Djamslie Milorel aka ‘James’ – FW – Himmarshee FC

Just watch the goal.

Don de Locker – DF – Palm Beach Spartans

Much is made of Spartans fearsome attack, holding things down at the other end of the pitch is Don de Locker. A reliable central defender who is also good with the ball at his feet. Spartans got two wins out of three in March thanks to his leadership at the back.

David Holguin – FW – Red Force FC

The Miami soccer legend, who we have affectionately dubbed Gordinho, inspired Red Force to a win in their first UPSL game with two goals. An absolute joy to watch this man play soccer.

Wikemlove – AMC – Boca Raton FC

Boca were 2-1 down at the half against the Spartans and made changes. One of them was bringing on tricky attacking midfielder Wikemlove. A goal and an assist later Boca were 3-2 up and in control. Gamechanger.

Gordon Banks: Former Fort Lauderdale Strikers and England keeper dies at 81

Gordon Banks (left) passed away at 81.

One of soccer’s greatest goalkeepers, Gordon Banks, passed peacefully in his sleep last night at the age of 81. Banks was a World Cup winner with England in 1966 and part of the original NASL revolution in the 1970s. Banks was the goalkeeper for the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in their infancy playing on the NASL roster alongside a whole load of greats including Gerd Müller, Teófilo Cubillas, Elías Figueroa and George Best. 

The Miami FC in 2018, Part 3: You’ll Never Beat Miami

Fans of The Miami FC react to a game. Photo by Lee Ifans.

Looking at the two Miami teams you saw a real contrast. Miami United had come out of the gate well and had a great run in the cup which ended with a match up against an MLS side. The Miami FC 2 had labored early on but had grown as the season progressed. United’s season was over in the Sunshine Conference playoff semi. Dispatched comfortably by Armada by a 4-1 scoreline. It was to be the final many people expected at the start of the season in the Sunshine Conference. FC vs Armada.