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.
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.
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.
Few would equate the dynamics of college football with soccer. Somehow, the Magic City Clasico and the NPSL on a shortened schedule shares the chaos, uncertainty, and euphoria of NCAA football. Every game is a must win and the lack of an official “pre-season” means clubs are often thrown straight into the deep end. The University of Miami often had to deal with their season hanging in the balance with Florida State University being their first opponent throughout the 2000’s. For the winner, the path has been cleared for the rest of the campaign. For the loser, panic attacks and prayers hoping to salvage a damaged season. This is what the Magic City Clasico has become.
Despite not walking away with a trophy in 2018, Miami United had one of their best seasons to date. Would a deep run in NPSL playoffs have been great? Of course. United, however, managed to make an impressive run through the 2018 U.S. Open Cup with a roster of genuine unknown players to the local soccer scene. 2019 proves to be a tougher challenge, however, the pink and black have a chip on their shoulder.
It’s been a long time. A long, long winter. But now spring is coming and the NPSL is back. Miami FC head into their second NPSL regular season as defending national champions after a celebrated run to the title in 2018. What can we expect this season?