The Miami FC

Da Silva da man for The Miami FC over Pittsburgh Riverhounds

The Miami FC came back to defeat the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at FIU Stadium on Saturday night. Photo by Lee Ifans.

The Miami FC turned things around in the last ten minutes of last night’s game versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds to grab all three points in an important matchup at the top of the USL Championship Atlantic Division.

A lovely clear fall evening in the 305 with a slight breeze blowing through Riccardo Silva Stadium set the stage for a good game between two evenly matched teams. The encounter exploded into life as fans were treated to a couple of quick-fire goals from the combatants in the first five minutes.

Kenardo Forbes grabbed the opener for the visitors, blasting home from a narrow angle after making a good run to find some space in the area. The Riverhounds had barely finished their celebrations when they were caught cold by Sean McFarlane. The Miami fullback spotted a run by Lamar Walker and the Jamaican made no mistake from close range.

For the rest of the half the teams traded jabs without too many clear cut chances. Pittsburgh were well-organized in defense and transitioned to attack dangerously. Clearly they had done their homework on Miami’s danger men. Christiano Francois struggled to get into the game at times as he was man-marked by the imposing Jelani Peters. Pittsburgh knew the danger posed by Francois and Billy Forbes down the flanks and set themselves up to contain them.

Second half fight

A worrying moment for the FC faithful came when goalkeeper Connor Sparrow was accidentally clobbered by an opponent as he was claiming a ball. As Brian Sylvestre was reaching for the gloves on the bench, Sparrow sprung back up to his feet determined to carry on. A moment that embodies the fighting spirit of this Miami FC side, something they would have to draw on in the second half.

Not long after the hour mark the Riverhounds Russell Cicerone hit the post with an effort. They went one better just after that. Thomas Williamson sent the ball into the area. A rare lapse from Paco Craig at the back saw him just miss a clearing header. Kenardo Forbes snuck away from Othello Bah to head home his second of the evening at the far post to the delight of the small band of Steel Army supporters who had made the trip down.

This game had big ramifications for the 2nd place spot in the division. Miami were three points behind the Riverhounds coming into the game. With Pittsburgh taking the lead, that gap increased to six.

Comeback trail

With Miami not making enough of an impact in the game and needing at least one goal, head coach Paul Dalglish once again pulled off an inspired substitution and tactical change. Nijah Reid and Pierre Da Silva entered the game for Löbe and captain Ariel Martinez. With less than ten minutes remaining Reid drew a couple of ball watching Riverhounds out of position and fizzed a ball across the 18 yard box to Othello Bah who lashed home an unstoppable finish.

Pittsburgh’s second had been a bit of a gift from the Miami backline. But they were happy to return the favor for the game winning goal for FC. Francois found acres of space on the halfway line and the visitors inexplicably left Da Silva totally unmarked. Francois played a perfect pass, Da Silva took one lovely first touch and hammered home the game winner.

The final score 3-2 to Miami. They remain 3rd in the table but equal on points with the Riverhounds plus Miami have one game in hand. Pittsburgh return to Miami on October 17th for a rematch. Before that though The Miami FC travel to bottom-of-the-table Loudoun United next Sunday.

Previewing The Match: The Miami FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds

As we enter the final month of the regular season, the playoff picture in the USL Championship’s Atlantic Division is beginning to crystallize. Miami FC–along with Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Charlotte–have separated themselves from the rest of the division. Now it’s simply a matter of positioning.

In many ways, Miami controls its own destiny. Miami FC (13-7-6, 45 pts) currently sits in third place, just three points behind the second-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds (with Miami still holding a game in hand). And they will host Pittsburgh twice at FIU Stadium in the next 14 days, including Saturday night’s match. 

A Miami victory would pull the Orange and Blue even with their Steel City rivals. And with the surging Charlotte Independence breathing down their necks, Miami can ill afford to let down their guard. 

Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Riverhounds

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds (14-7-6, 48 pts) have managed to maintain their spot behind the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the standings for most of the second half of the season. But their grip has started to loosen with Miami and Charlotte both challenging the Riverhounds for that pivotal second place position, which would ensure home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. 

Miami and Pittsburgh have met twice so far this season–both times at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh. Their first meeting ended in a 1-1 draw on June 12. When they clashed again on Aug. 11, Miami erased a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-2 victory on the road. 

Since the first tiebreaker in the USL Championship is based on head-to-head points earned in regular season, a Miami victory would give them the edge over Pittsburgh should the two teams finish with the same number of points at the end of the season.

Russell Cicerone and Hugh Alexander Dixon have been the go-to attackers for the Riverhounds all season. Cicerone has established himself as one of the league’s top goal scorers. He’s found the back of the net 14 times while adding seven assists to his name. Dixon, meanwhile, is right behind him with nine goals and also has seven assists.

And don’t forget about Kenardo Forbes. The Jamaican midfielder has six assists this season and loves to deliver dangerous crosses into the box (he is third in the league with 144 crosses). He can give opposing defenders headaches trying to contain him. 

Keys To A Miami Victory

Devon “Speedy” Williams, who will join the Jamaican national team for their upcoming World Cup qualifying matches, scored twice in Miami’s comeback victory. Meanwhile, former Riverhound Cristiano François has scored twice against Pittsburgh so far this season. Both players will be worth keeping an eye on Saturday night. 

Ariel Martinez has been a strong presence for Miami since returning from injury, earning a spot on the USL Championship’s Team of the Week after scoring a goal and tallying two assists in the club’s 6-1 rout over Loudoun United. Martinez now has five goals and a team-high seven assists this season. 

Miami managed to keep Cicerone and Dixon off the scoresheet last time around, but still found itself trailing during their last meeting. Goalkeeper Connor Sparrow has been in top form over the past few weeks, and he will need to stay sharp against one of the more well-balanced attacking teams in the league.  

Prediction

After a tough midweek loss to Charlotte, Miami bounced back in a big way. They put up six goals against lowly Loudoun and enter the final month of the season with confidence. Miami also added some reinforcements to their lineup that give them the depth to make a deep playoff run. 

Pittsburgh has appeared vulnerable at times in recent months, and Miami should be able to take advantage of that in front of a home crowd. 

Miami FC 3 – Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1

Game Notes

WHO: Miami FC (13-7-6, 45 pts) vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (14-7-6, 48 pts)

WHEN: Saturday, October 2 // 7:30 pm EST

WHERE: FIU Stadium (Miami, FL)

WATCH: ESPN+ 

DISCIPLINE: 

  • Miami FC – None
  • Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Caution Accumulation Warning: Dani Rovira

 

The Miami FC v Charlotte Independence: Previewing The Match

If there’s one dark horse that could stir up trouble for Miami FC (12-6-6, 42 points) in the final month of the regular season, it’s the Charlotte Independence. While Miami is essentially a lock to clinch its first USL Championship playoff berth, they may have to watch their back lest Charlotte overtake them. 

The Independence are tightening their grip on the fourth and final playoff place in the Atlantic Division.  Riding a three-game winning streak, Charlotte has put a seven-point cushion between themselves and Charleston and Hartford. And a Charlotte victory Wednesday night would shrink the gap between the Independence and third-place Miami to a mere two points… with Charlotte still holding a match in hand.   

Know Your Enemy: Charlotte Independence

Since Miami fought back to earn a 2-2 draw at home against the Charlotte Independence (11-8-4, 37 pts) on Sept. 4, Charlotte has caught fire. The Independence haven’t allowed a goal since that match, outscoring their opponents 8-0 during their three-game win streak.

French midfielder Sylvain Marveaux has played a huge role in Charlotte’s incredible turnaround this season. Since joining the club in late June, the 35-year-old has tallied four goals and three assists. His Premier League and Ligue 1 experience has transferred well to the United States thus far.   

Meanwhile, forward Irvin Parra continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenses, leading the team with 12 goals so far this season. In Charlotte’s last outing, Parra scored the game-winner in the 81st minute in a 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 18.   

Goalkeeper Austin Pack appears to have won the trust of Head Coach Mike Jeffries and he’s earned three straight clean sheets, thanks in large part to a solid backline in front of him led by defender Christian Fuchs.  

Keys To A Miami Victory

Miami’s backline will have its hands full now that Charlotte has a plethora of weapons on the attack. Defender Paco Craig has been excellent all season long, and he made a potential game-saving clearance this past weekend against Charleston that may have single-handedly kept Miami’s unbeaten streak alive. 

Craig and the rest of the backline will need to keep the traffic away from goalkeeper Connor Sparrow if the club wants to keep that streak going. They will need to keep close tabs on Irvin Parra, who scored the 

Forward Ariel Martinez returned to action this past weekend after missing a handful of games with an injury and immediately made his impact help. Martinez provided the assisted on Lamar Walker’s goal and nearly scored the game-winner in the final minutes against Charleston, but his 88th minute shot went off the crossbar. Can Martinez, who has four goals this season, find the back of the net against Charlotte? 

Against a Charlotte team riding momentum, Miami may want to attack early and often to try to capture an early lead. After all, Miami is 9-2-0 when scoring first this season. Too often during this unbeaten streak, Miami has found themselves playing from behind and forced to settle for draws. 

Prediction

Charlotte has put all the pieces together to make a splash over the final few weeks of the regular season. And Miami is catching them at just the wrong time. Having to travel to the Queen City in the middle of the week against one of the hottest teams in the league is a tough test for Miami. 

The fact that Charlotte is very tough to beat at home (7-1-4) does not bode well for the visitors. This could very well be the end of the road for Miami’s impressive nine-game unbeaten streak.  

Charlotte Independence 2 – Miami FC 1

Game Notes

WHO:  Miami FC (12-6-6, 42 points) vs. Charlotte Independence (11-8-4, 37 pts)

WHEN: Wednesday, September 22 // 7:00 pm EST

WHERE: American Legion Memorial Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

WATCH: ESPN+

DISCIPLINE: 

  • Miami FC – None
  • Charlotte Independence –  None

The Miami FC vs. Charlotte Independence: Previewing the Match

The Miami FC vs. Charlotte Independence

Once again Miami FC will be racking up the airmiles as a two-stop road trip takes them all the way to Memphis 901 FC but first up is a stop in North Carolina to take on Charlotte Independence on Saturday evening.

Miami (11-6-4, 37 pts) keep on rolling. Six games in August and they went unbeaten with four wins and two draws. Though some players will once again be missing due to international call ups that busy run showed that there is the quality in the squad to come in and keep the performances at the required levels.

The Independence played one game less than FC in August but still put together a creditable two wins, two draws and one loss. That L came against the Rowdies at Al Lang so there is no shame in that small slip up.

Know Your Enemy: Charlotte Independence

Good form is keeping Charlotte in the running for a playoff place. Miami, along with the Rowdies and Riverhounds, have daylight between them and fourth placed Charleston. Charlotte are not far behind the Battery though. Just one point adrift in sixth place equal on points with Hartford.

Up front Charlotte will be looking to Dane Kelly and Irvin Parra to solve the solid Miami backline. Jamaican Kelly has bagged seven goals this season but don’t count out the quality of Parra either. Another player to watch is Uruguayan midfielder Enzo Martinez. Enzo is a leader on the team and is always up for the battle with Miami.

Miami and Charlotte have similar defensive records. Keeper Austin Pack has proved to be a safe pair of hands since taking over duties between the sticks after an injury to starting GK Brandon Miller. Hugh Roberts is always a force to be reckoned with at center back and the Independence also boast a Premier League winner in defense. Former Leicester City player Christian Fuchs having signed on recently.

Keys To A Miami FC Victory

Miami will have to make do without Lamar Walker and Speedy Williams who are off on duty with Jamaica. New signing Joshua Perez is also away with El Salvador. That means a possible start for youngster Jahshaun Anglin.

The formidable defensive partnership of Paco Craig and Callum Chapman-Page is now on 270 minutes without conceding a goal, three clean sheets in the last three games. If they can keep that up then it could be a long night for the Charlotte attack.

Just two players have scored Miami’s last five goals. Lamar Walker getting two and Billy Forbes three. Walker won’t be playing but Christiano Francois will be looking to get back among the goals. It won’t be easy for the forwards in this game but the quality is clearly there to get a goal or two.

Prediction

Miami FC have never lost to Charlotte Independence and it’s hard to see that changing tomorrow. Home field advantage might have Charlotte feeling they can get a point at least from this game. But it’s a big ask to halt the Miami juggernaut right now. One goal might settle this. 

Charlotte Independence 1 – The Miami FC 2

Game Notes

WHO: Charlotte Independence (8-8-3, 27 pts) vs. The Miami FC (11-6-4, 37 points)

WHEN: Saturday, September 4 || 7:00 pm EST

WHERE: American Legion Memorial Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

WATCH: ESPN+ in the US, YouTube Internationally

The Miami FC vs. New York Red Bulls II: Previewing the Match

The Miami FC hosts New York Red Bulls II on Sunday night.

As the end of summer draws near, Miami FC will try to stay hot as they host the New York Red Bulls II at FIU Stadium on Sunday night. 

Miami (10-6-4, 34 pts) has to be feeling great about where they stand heading into the final two months of the season. After a rocky start to the season, the Blue and Orange have earned at least a point in 10 of their past 11 matches dating back to June 26. That impressive stretch has given Miami FC a legitimate shot at competing for the Atlantic Division crown along with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. 

NYRBII, on the other hand, has headed in the opposite direction. The wheels have come off for the Baby Bulls, who have lost five straight matches heading into Sunday’s match.

The Miami FC vs. Hartford Athletic: Previewing The Match

The Miami FC hosts Hartford Athletic on Sunday night.

They say there’s no place like home, and that’s been true for Miami FC this summer. 

FIU Stadium has been a fortress for the Blue and Orange lately. Miami has won four consecutive home matches dating back to June 26, including two wins against the first-place Tampa Bay Rowdies. But that streak will be put to the test Sunday night when Miami hosts the Hartford Athletic, the only team division rival Miami hasn’t won against this season

This will be the fourth and final regular season meeting between the two clubs. Hartford has dominated the series so far, winning the first two matches with Miami fighting to a draw when the two teams met last on Aug. 4. 

Can Miami FC (9-6-4, 31 points) finally crack the code and earn a victory against the Connecticut-based club? A win could pull Miami neck-and-neck with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh at the top of the table. Another loss to Hartford, however, could put them in a dogfight for the final two playoff spots in the Atlantic Division.  

Know Your Enemy: Hartford Athletic

The playoff race in the Atlantic is heating up, and the Hartford Athletic (8-6-3, 27 pts) are still right in the thick of it. After a hot start to their season, things have leveled off for the Athletic in recent weeks. They’ve lost three of their past five matches, but are coming off a huge 2-1 midweek victory against the Charleston Battery on Aug. 17 to jump back into fourth place. 

As they prepare for the final stretch of the season, the Athletic brought in some reinforcements to help them get to the postseason. They added midfielder Justin Haak on loan from New York City FC and Guatemala international Darwin Lom to bolster their attack up front. Both made their debut in the win over Charleston, adding a much needed jolt to their lineup. 

But Miami still needs to watch out for Danny Barrera, who leads the club with five goals and eight assists. Interestingly, Miami has held him scoreless in their three meetings so far this season. But he has assisted on three of Hartford’s four goals during those matches.  

And then there’s Goalkeeper of the Year nominee Jeff Caldwell. Caldwell leads the league in saves (68) and has shut out Miami FC twice this season. 

Keys To A The Miami FC Victory

Miami FC’s depth will be put to the test this weekend. They will have to make do without goalkeeper Connor Sparrow and forward Cristiano François. Both were issued red cards in Miami’s scoreless draw on the road against Austin on Aug. 14. Now Head Coach Paul Dalglish will have to make some interesting decisions with the lineup.   

Backup keeper and Haitian international Brian Sylvestre filled in admirably for Sparrow in his first taste of USL Championship action all season, and he will have to be sharp again on Sunday against a lethally efficient Hartford attack. And Sylvestre will certainly need help from his backline, led by defender Paco Craig (who was nominated for Midseason Defender of the Year honors). 

François’s absence, meanwhile, may open the door for midfielder Speedy Williams to build on his terrific performances against Pittsburgh and Austin last week. Williams was voted Player of the Week after scoring twice in Miami’s comeback win over the Riverhounds on Aug. 11. Can he deliver another big performance against Hartford? 

Prediction

Miami has been stellar at home over the past two months and has shown resilience in recent victories. But with two key contributors forced to sit out and Hartford coming in with some fresh blood in its Starting XI, it may be difficult for Miami to come away with three points. 

Miami FC 1 – Hartford Athletic 1

Game Notes

WHO: Miami FC (9-6-4, 31 points) vs. Hartford Athletic (8-6-3, 27 pts) 

WHEN: Sunday, August 22 || 6:30 pm EST

WHERE: FIU Stadium (Miami, FL)

WATCH: ESPN+

DISCIPLINE: 

  • Miami FC – Connor Sparrow, Cristiano François
  • Hartford Athletic – None

The Miami FC v Austin Bold FC: Previewing The Match

It’s starting to feel a little crowded at the top of the Atlantic Division. And it could get even more crowded by the end of the weekend. 

After a rocky start to the season, Miami FC (9-6-3, 30 pts) has stormed back with a tremendous summer stretch. The Blue and Orange have only lost once in its past nine matches dating back to June 26 with six victories during that span. That includes a thrilling come-from-behind road victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Wednesday night to tighten the race.