Miami enters this game venturing into uncharted territory. Only once in club history have they dropped four matches in a row. To call the third game of the fall season a must win is hyperbole at best, however, that may be the sentiment inside the locker room tonight for the Blues.
Author’s Note: Please be advised that I am not an attorney. None of the below is a legal opinion/interpretation nor should it be taken as such. The article below is just a view on the road ahead.
On the day following the statement made by Dade Brigade with their #OpenSoccer tifo, Miami FC have filed a lawsuit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Alongside Miami, the Kingston Stockade (New York/NPSL) joined the motion calling for implementation of promotion and relegation within the United States pyramid. Why such a strong action from the Riccardo Silva owned team? Let’s jump back to last week.
After the disappointment against FC Cincinnati in Wednesday’s quarter-final cup action, Miami finds themselves trying to pick up the pieces after losing two straight games. It’s been a while since Nesta & Company have lost multiple matches in a row. The last time Miami FC dropped repeated matches was towards the end of the fall season in 2016. Dropping three in a row? You have to go back to the nightmarish spring season of 2016.
Miami FC has turned into an offensive juggernaut in the NASL. Few teams in the league have the defensive ability to keep up with this group of attackers. Whether it’s blowing teams out by numerous goals or being able to cash in on the lone chance of the night, Pinho, Rennella and Poku have come in clutch all season. Their job has been made much easier thanks to the play of the midfield group that we recapped yesterday. Let’s take a look at the trio’s season so far and their best moments.
The biggest question The Miami FC had to answer coming into the 2017 campaign was “Can this defense hold up?” Boy, have they ever held up their end of the bargain. After allowing 42 goals in 2016, the backline has found the chemistry necessary to shut opponents down. Through 16 league games, the boys at the back have only allowed 11 goals and have helped Mario Daniel Vega hold seven clean sheets. In an extra four games of U.S. Open Cup play, Miami has allowed five goals while keeping a clean sheet against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Let’s take a look at this part of the team’s season so far and their best moments.
The make-up date for The Miami FC’s U.S. Open Cup matchup versus FC Cincinnati that was washed out on Wednesday has been set for Aug. 2.
How many teams get a chance to continue their fantastic cup run after securing a playoff spot in their league? That answer has to be few to none (I know, I know European leagues don’t do playoffs). Miami’s unbeaten run of 14 games ended on the 4th of July to North Carolina FC in a game that lacked the proverbial fireworks that Miami put on Saturday against the San Francisco Deltas. If anything, it’s clear this team doesn’t appreciate getting hit in the mouth. On the heels of the 1-0 loss, Miami came home and obliterated the Deltas 7-0.
Miami FC can continue their historic cup run tonight against an opponent in their same weight class. If the Blues have played a ton of games in recent memory, FC Cincinnati has played even more. This will be their third match in six days ― having previously visited Tampa and returned home to face Richmond. Cincinnati is a team that resembles Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Boasting a 6-6-6 record in United Soccer League play and sitting in sixth place in the USL East, FCC hasn’t produced many points away from the friendly confines of Nippert Stadium. How opposite have these performances been? 5 points in 8 games away from home.
As we discussed with Bryan Weigel earlier this week, this team is nursing injuries, pushing through a heavy schedule and attempting to stay in the USL playoff race. Their cup form has been very similar to our own, with the added benefit of not having to travel. The kicker is they have yet to concede a goal in U.S. Open Cup competition! It shows what home cooking can do for a team.
Miami will be looking to bring that statistic to an end Wednesday night at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Being able to provide extra rest on Saturday to Kwadwo Poku, Vincenzo Rennella, and Richie Ryan will prove critical when playing a team that is willing to absorb a ton of pressure. FCC will try and clog all of the passing lanes while playing 10 men behind the ball. This is a team that kept the Chicago Fire off the score sheet for 120 minutes!
Miami will have to be patient and choose carefully when to send bodies forward. We’ve seen the best teams in the world lose to opponents who park the bus early and finish their only chance on goal. The Blues surely will have their eye on FCC striker Djiby Fall and prepare for a quick counterattack hoping to catch Miami’s backline asleep.
The keys to Miami’s victory lie within the midfield’s ability to get balls into Poku, Stefano Pinho, and Rennella. Their ability to finish even the toughest of chances in the worst of angles will add pressure to the back three that FCC typically employs. If FCC attempts to man mark the PPR highway, it could be a long night for Mitch Hildebrandt & company. One or two early goals and you can seal Miami’s entrance into the semifinals of the cup.
Score prediction: Miami FC 3 – FC Cincinnati 1
How often do you get a chance to finish something at the site where it all began? These types of moments rarely come around for the usual but The Miami FC have proven to anything but usual this season. Miami returns to Cary, N.C. with a chance to clinch the NASL Spring Season title against North Carolina FC.
It’s hard to believe that South Florida is quickly becoming a breeding ground for championship soccer. We’ve talked at length of the current Miami FC season, and we are usually really good about discussing the play of Miami United. The one team we haven’t given you enough details on is FC Miami City.
Remember when we said that the win against Orlando City SC was the biggest game The Miami FC’s history and had the biggest implications for soccer in this city? Well, we were a bit short sighted with regards to that statement. Tonight’s tilt against Atlanta United has usurped that title as Miami faces its toughest test yet.