The season that just doesn’t want to end continues. Magic City soccer fans are going to be treated to at least one more match of significant importance Saturday as The Miami FC 2 take on the Rangers of Little Rock, Arkansas. In a season that has bloomed in the darkest of skies, Miami has a unique ability to win their second NPSL title of the season and earn a place in the national finals.
It wasn’t easy under the floodlights of the Bob for Miami FC 2 on a steaming hot Tuesday night in Miami. A very useful Atlanta Silverbacks squad was in town for more NPSL playoff soccer. Atlanta were the strongest side to come to the 305 all season and they might feel like they could have got something out of this very even game, but Miami’s unbeaten run continues.
Last week the Miami FC 2 managed to do something they couldn’t last year, win a playoff. Unlike the NASL, the NPSL has a “three-round” playoff system. After a team makes it out of their conference playoffs, they enter the regional stage, then move on to the national final four. During the playoffs each round is a one-legged fixture hosted by the team that earned a higher points per game tally during the regular season. Miami’s stellar regular season forces the Atlanta Silverbacks to come to town.
With the loss of forward Jaime Chávez to a red card and the late scratch of Don Smart, it appeared Saturday night’s challenge against Jacksonville Armada FC for the NPSL Sunshine Conference championship would be an uphill battle. But virtually from the moment of kickoff, The Miami FC 2 were in the driver’s seat and their play took them all the way to the title, thoroughly defeating the Armada 3-1.
Miami-Dade County was well represented in the NPSL Conference XI on Friday, as three players from The Miami FC 2 and two players from Miami United FC were recognized by the league for their performance in the Sunshine Conference. In addition, Miami FC coach Paul Dalglish was named the coach of the year in the conference.
We have the opponent, and we have the date. As we mentioned earlier, this 2018 NPSL season has been eerily similar to a roller coaster ride. You have the anxiety before you take your seat, the high’s, the low’s, the fear, the excitement. Yet, at the end of the ride you pull off your safety constraints and you get off knowing you always would. Despite everything that has happened, the draws, the losses, and the unconvincing victories, it’s Miami FC versus Jacksonville for the title. It’s what was always supposed to be.
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.
The Miami FC 2 signed off a very successful inaugural NPSL regular season with a comfortable win against a lackluster Boca Raton FC side. With the home fans finally given a chance to enjoy a Saturday night game, there was a real end-of-term feel to proceedings and a quiet confidence that the job in hand could be completed and that 1st place in the Sunshine Conference would be sewn up.
It’s incredible to think that the 2018 NPSL soccer season is on it’s final fixture date here in the Magic City. The three month “flash in the pan” season reaches it’s end as Miami FC 2 take on the boys from Boca Raton in a final showdown. Unfortunately for Boca, this match means nothing other than a final showing. For MFC2, one point makes the difference between hosting a semi-final and potentially traveling, or having seven days off and hosting the Conference final.
Coming into Tuesday’s match, Paul Dalglish was forced to use his imagination due to injuries to Kris Tyrpak and Shaddi Atassi. Deploying a six midfield lineup (seven if you want to count Smart) against a strong Naples side was bold. Fortunately, it was enough and Miami was able to get an extra four days of rest and recovery for the strikers. With Vincenzo Rennella and Aly Hassan gone from the lineup the lone striker on the club, Jaime Chavez, can use all the rest he can get given the gauntlet that is the NPSL playoffs.
Jim Rooney’s boys will look to play spoiler tonight denying the Miami FC organization its third straight season title. The blueprint for beating this Miami side essentially public knowledge at this point. Time and time again we’ve seen the Blues get frustrated from having to break down five at the back and opponents using holding midfielders to clog up the passing lanes. If Rooney is determined to deny Miami FC 2’s first spotlight, it will be crucial to be organized at the back and keep an eye on the wingbacks.
The truth is, there is less pressure on this team today knowing that all they need is a draw in order to secure the top slot. Unfortunately for MFC2, the structure of the playoffs for the region will require them to get a win if they would like to host a NPSL regional semi-final if they make it out of the conference playoffs. Thankfully, there is some solace in knowing that the last time these two teams faced off Miami trounced Boca 5-0.
Keys To A MFC2 victory:
Miami was able to score early on Boca Raton in their previous fixture at Atlantic High School. Miami used their pace to create cracks in the Boca backline and cause chaos all day for the defensive unit. Much of the same should be expected today as Paul Dalglish deploys his fullbacks forward, asking them to become part of the attack. Don Smart, who has made the right wingback position his own, will look to terrorize the Boca back line with his space and crossing ability.
In a perfect world, Tyrpak and Chavez would be available to man the front line along with Dario Suarez. If Miami can play their best eleven, their biggest obstacles would be complacency and themselves. Expect the midfield to try and create passing lanes for the wingers and work to free Chavez in behind the defense.
All-in-all this match should be an easier contest than Miami’s previous outings at home. Boca’s lone win at home came against Storm FC and the south palm beach boys have given up a staggering 17 goals on the road this season. It should be all Miami early on as they look to seal the game early to allow for the bench to get involved as soon as possible.
Miami FC 2 4 – 0 Boca Raton FC
Tickets are still available for tonight’s contest! Click Here To Get Your Tickets Today!
Miami put their best foot forward Tuesday night and the fireworks came early for the Miami faithful. Despite allowing a first-half goal, Naples did their best to keep themselves on pace with Jacksonville. At the end, Miami’s fitness and professional experience was just too much for the boys from the west coast to handle on the overcast and humid night.