For some people at the City of Miami’s commission chambers Wednesday, it was nearly an 18-hour day. For supporters and opponents of Fútbol Miami MLS’ ballot initiative, they came and had their say. However, at nearly 11 p.m., the city’s commissioners voted to delay discussion on the proposed stadium and park for nearly a week.
Fútbol Miami MLS co-owner David Beckham arrives to Regatta Park in Coconut Grove and speaks to supporters before the team argues in front of the City of Miami commission on July 12, 2018.
Jacksonville Armada and Miami United have played two winner-take-all matches this year. Last May, Miami United traveled to Duval County and emerged with a win to advance in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Wednesday night, they would not be so fortunate, as a second-half blitz guaranteed that Jacksonville Armada would face fellow NASL exile The Miami FC 2 for the National Premier Soccer League’s Sunshine Conference title.
The first half was a relatively even match. Jacksonville Armada struck first in the eighth minute, with a goal from JC Banks.
The goal seemed to wake up Miami United, and it responded with a headed goal from Nicolas Micoli in the 26th minute.
That goal seemed to reinvigorate Armada, and they had the better of the rest of the first half. The second half, however, was a different story altogether.
Two goals in two minutes proved to be the major difference. Banks earned a brace in the 47th minute thanks to a deflection, and was followed two minutes later by Ciarán Kilduff to give Jacksonville Armada a 3-1 lead it would never relinquish.
Kilduff got his brace in the 74th minute to close the scoring, and close the story on Miami United’s season.
Miami will be remembered for a tremendous Open Cup run, which concluded with a match at home against Orlando City SC. It will also be remembered, however, for a post-Cup swoon which took Miami United from the top of the Sunshine Conference table to a third-place finish which saw them traveling to Jacksonville.
The Armada will now travel to Miami-Dade county to face off against Miami FC 2. The winner will win the Sunshine Conference advance to the NPSL’s regional playoffs. The match kicks off at Bobcat Field at St. Thomas University on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available on MiamiFC.com.
As part of its push to build support before a Thursday vote for its proposed “Miami Freedom Park,” Fútbol Miami MLS is hosting a watch party for the England and Croatia FIFA World Cup Semifinal at The Wharf in Downtown Miami featuring co-owner and soccer legend David Beckham.
As is to be expected, there has been a lot of discussion about Miami Freedom Park, where Fútbol Miami MLS intends to build its stadium (with the approval of City of Miami voters in November). However, co-owner Jorge Mas has revealed a lot of other news related to the actual sport of soccer in the course of his interviews this weekend. And it appears a lot of pieces related to the team will be falling into place in weeks, rather than months or years.
Mas spoke to Will Manso of Local 10 WPLG on Sunday, and revealed a number of juicy tidbits:
- First, the colors, shield and uniform could be released as early as the end of this month.
- Second, the club has interviewed candidates for general manager and coach, and the GM position is expected to be filled by the end of next month.
- Third, the team name will be released after colors, and it will not be Miami Freedom, as had been speculated in May. That name will be reserved for the development at Melreese. Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald reported last month that the two favored finalists appear to be Futbol Club Internacional de Miami (Inter Miami) and Futbol Club Atletico Miami (Atletico Miami).
- Finally, and most critically, Mas reiterated the plan to kick off in March 2020, even though the proposed stadium won’t be ready until 2021. That means the team will start in a temporary venue. Mas mentioned that there’s interest in “the other two large facilities in Dade County that can house our team,” referring to Hard Rock Stadium and Riccardo Silva Stadium.
Mas indicated the ownership group had an idea of the style it would like to play, and hopes to model Atlanta United as a club to develop players for the future.
Listen to Matt and Omar discuss the “Miami Freedom Park” plan on Magic City Soccer Episode 57!
It’s hard to imagine a time where Fútbol Miami MLS might be “done” with the preparation stage. For years, Miami fans eagerly awaiting a Major League Soccer team to support have awaited a finish line. However, developments over the last week may indicate that Thursday’s meeting with the City of Miami’s commissioners may signal the beginning of the end (or, at least, the end of the beginning).
While it’s not a surprise, it is jarring to see how much the Miami-Fort Lauderdale TV market is dominating in 2018 FIFA World Cup consumption.
There has been some reporting on how much Miami is watching, but the full picture wasn’t clear until yesterday. Michael Mulvihill, FOX Sports Executive Vice President for Research, League Operations & Strategy, tweeted out ratings numbers combining English- and Spanish-language ratings.
The United States Men’s National Team is currently mired in one of its more humiliating periods in the modern era (failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup). Men in Blazers co-host Roger Bennett thought it would be a good time to reflect on the other calamity since America’s return to the world soccer stage in 1990: The U.S. Men’s National Team’s failure at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. His series, “American Fiasco,” produced with WNYC Studios, looks back at all the ways the U.S. fell short leading up to and during that World Cup campaign. The seven-part podcast, however, offers a small look into how Miami played a small role in John Harkes being removed from the team, a key part of the failure that would arrive in the summer of 1998.
Before the World Cup, many believed the United States was ready to emerge as a potential dark horse to compete in the tournament. However, qualifying proved to be difficult and manager Steve Sampson was dealing with stress and injuries to the squad. Left back Jeff Agoos had been injured in a friendly against Mexico on Feb. 15, 1998. In response to this, Sampson turned to his “Captain for Life” to fill in the gap left by Agoos for the team’s match against The Netherlands at Pro Player Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) in Miami Gardens on Feb. 21.
According to Bennett’s interview with Sampson, Harkes was less than thrilled (you can hear Sampson and Harkes themselves describe the situation in full on Episode 5, about 14 minutes in):
“[Harkes] then says to me, ‘I did not come back from England to play as an outside back. I came back to play in the middle of midfield,'” Sampson told Bennett. “And I looked at him, and I said ‘So you’re telling me that you can only play in one position where you want to play, and that your national team coach is asking you to play this role for this game and you’re refusing to do so.’
“I’d never experienced that, in my entire career, a player telling a coach that he wasn’t willing to play in a certain position.”
Harkes had a different perspective, yet agreed he wasn’t fully sold on the idea of playing left back in Miami.
“I thought that he kept saying I didn’t embrace it, and for me, I was like ‘I’m doing my best here,'” Harkes said. “At times, it was his way or the highway. He had taken on this persona that he was the man in charge.”
Harkes played the game as left back, but the damage had been done.
Sampson identified three “strikes” that took Harkes from his “Captain for Life” to off the 1998 U.S. World Cup squad. This incident, where Harkes didn’t initially accept the role, was strike one. Strike two was a night out in Brussles that Sampson did not approve of, and strike three was an affair Harkes had with the wife of U.S. teammate Eric Wynalda.
None of this changes the past, of course. However, this additional context about Sampson’s decision makes the 1998 World Cup flameout a little easier to understand. And, of course, Miami had to play a role.
After a lackluster performance against Boca Raton FC and a draw against conference-leaders Jacksonville Aramada, Miami United FC were looking to get back on the right foot. Enter Storm FC.
Storm FC, a team United had put nine past in their earlier matchup, was just what the doctor ordered, as United scored three at Ted Hendricks Stadium to claim a vital three points in the Sunshine Conference.
Next month, after the 2018 FIFA World Cup concludes in Russia, the eyes of the soccer world will turn to the International Champions Cup. Miami-Dade County will be hosting two men’s matches and the entirety of the women’s tournament. Before the main show, though, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are visiting Miami this month to tease their face-off at Hard Rock Stadium on July 28.