The world’s game returns to the beautiful confines of Hard Rock Stadium Saturday night for yet another CONMEBOL showdown. Last year we were graced with a great matchup between Chile and Peru that brought out thousands of South American transplants. This weekend, expect the same as Venezuela and Ecuador look to give hope to their South Floridian fans ahead of this year’s Copa America.
It’s not rare to have a roster turnover with quite a few players leaving, especially in lower division football. What FC Miami City have done is surely something that has not been replicated quite often. The entire roster has been overhauled, not even one player returns from the 2018 season. How will that work for City in inaugural USL League Two campaign? For the new coaching staff, it has to be better than the previous campaign.
Miami United are looking like a club that could have made a long run in the U.S. Open Cup had they only had a chance to enter the tournament. Not having dropped a match since their season opener against cross-town rival Miami FC, United have won their last four matches by an impressive margin. Unfortunately for the pink and black, their cross town rivals are outgunning them against the same set of opponents.
Back in 2017 we had a nice little run going here at Magic City Soccer of nailing score-lines of Miami FC matches. If you look back at the preview, we hit the match right on it’s head. It took Miami quite a while, for their standards, to get their first goal of the match. It just took one to open the floodgates and secure three points in Winter Park.
It’s been a long, long, time since the Miami FC played an official match in central Florida. The Orlando area has always treated Miami quite well on the pitch. I don’t have to remind you of the 2017 #cupset over Orlando City behind the hat trick from Stefano Pinho. Those days are long gone, but the Miami FC are in fine form and look to keep racking up the wins in the 407 over NPSL Sunshine Conference newcomers CFSC.
It was surprising and yet at the very same time it was not. The Florida Soccer Soldiers will get their second round match against the Charlotte Independence (USL Championship) in just a few hours. The UPSL heavyweights from the Magic City held their own against the NPSL champions Miami FC just a week ago. Flash forward six days later, and the Soldiers are looking to make a FC Christos style run in the U.S. Open Cup.
It was a good night of soccer for the Magic City faithful. With two matches taking place consecutively, or so we thought, South Florida was treated to 180 minutes of dominating action. In Lauderhill, Miami FC had to wait approximately three hours to kickoff their match against the new look Storm FC. Our contingent was at the match, where the weather delay persisted due to lightning strikes in the area, despite a drop of water never falling from the sky. Scheduled for a 5:30 kickoff, Miami United’s contest against the Jacksonville Armada began prior to kickoff at Central Broward Stadium.
The Jacksonville Armada return a youth side to the NPSL after having a professional roster take the pitch in 2018. Robert Palmer is seeming to keep his options open as to where to take the first team next, and the U-23 side will likely be comprised of the local college talent and high school standouts. Miami United arguably have enough in the tank to avenge their Sunshine Conference playoff loss to the main team a year ago. The Armada will open their 2019 season against the winners of the most recent #MagicCityClasico.
The Miami FC make their first trip into Broward county for the 2019 season. While Lockhart is being demolished in Fort Lauderdale, there is soccer being played just down the road in Lauderhill. Storm FC have seen a major organizational overhaul in 2019 with the Miami Soccer Academy taking over operations from the crew that finished last in the 2018 NPSL Sunshine Conference. The question is, can MSA provide some type of hope for the Storm brand?
The Miami FC have been left with a sour taste in their mouth with having been exposed in the away fixture of the #MagicCityClasico. The second of the fixtures against Miami United was the exact opposite of the first contest, with United besting FC 2-0 with both goals coming in the first half. The highly touted Lloyd Sam was invisible in a match where his talent should have cast a spotlight. The midfield was lacking the link in play that is notable of Miami’s style throughout their history. The return of Ariel Martinez will be a boost to the squad that is surely looking to make a statement.
Keys To A Miami FC Victory
Ariel Martinez might find himself thrown immediately into the fire as he will be getting his first action of 2019. With Miami being unable to create chances from the midfield against Miami United, expect Paul Dalglish to make a point of emphasis of creating passing lanes and using runs into the box to bring havoc to the Storm backline. In last year’s fixture, Jaime Chavez capitalized on aerial through-balls and a sleeping Storm defense. Miami cannot solely rely on feeding Mohamed Thiaw in the air as a target man. Getting combination runs and exposing Storm out wide like some of these goals last year will be key.
While the middle of the defense was arguably the most questionable going into the campaign, Kcira’s season ending injury has left Miami exposed on the flanks. Miami United exposed Marco Franco’s and Brian James’ lack of pace and positional awareness last weekend. Dalglish must find a solution to his fullback situation and provide support in coverage. It would be wise to deploy Lance Rozeboom in a more defensive role and perhaps have him slot in as a 3rd centreback, giving Brenton Griffiths, John Neeskens, and Jalen Markey freedom to help cover the flanks when necessary.
The simple truth is, no one knows what to expect from this newly run Storm FC side. Storm was unable to tally against Naples United and didn’t fare as well as they should have against USL League Two side FC Miami City. While I don’t expect a full on drubbing like the 7-0 fixture in 2018, the talent and experience should carry Miami to their second victory of the season. Dalglish should have his squads full talents on display as avoiding any setbacks the rest of the way is the key to putting Miami FC in the best possible position to repeating the success from a year ago.
Tickets will be available at the gate and Miami Soccer Academy are giving out some for free to attend the match at 5:30. Click here for a chance to win your free tickets.
You would think that with back to back #MagicCityClasico fixtures that it would begin to lose some of its luster or that the meaning would become just a bit less. Guess again. With both clubs eager to lace up their boots for the fifth installment of this derby, both sides have something to provide. Miami United will look to avenge their first ever defeat at the hands of Miami FC. For FC, making life as difficult as possible for United and damaging their chances at a second place finish in the sunshine conference in the task.