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.
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.
Miami FC was given a gift on Saturday by Naples United when they took down Jacksonville at home. While the Miami faithful look at the result as a gift from the retirement community crew, Naples is out to make this story about themselves, and they technically control their own fate. The NPSL Sunshine Conference has proven to be full of surprises. Miami FC can’t afford any surprises in the final two matches of the season.
It’s crunch time in the NPSL Sunshine Conference as the seven teams in the division head into some vital games that will help shape the final season standings.
How do the playoffs work? What’s at stake? Well the top three get in. On July 11th the semi final will take place between 2nd and 3rd in the table at the ground of the higher placed team. The winner of that game goes on to the final game against 1st at their place on Saturday, July 14.
Win that game, you’re Sunshine Conference champ and move on to the South Region playoffs. This takes the form of a semi final and final as well. The Sunshine Conference champion goes up against the winner of the Southeast Conference playoff on July 17th. Which is a Tuesday. Winner of that game advances to the South Region playoff final versus whoever won the game between the Lone Star and Heartland Conference champs on July 21. Confused? Yeah. I was too. It’s all broken down here. http://www.npsl.com/playoffs
But let’s concentrate on the Sunshine Conference. It looks like this right now.
THE MIAMI FC 2
Miami FC 2 went three points clear at the top, with 21 points in total, after a narrow win in Naples in their last game. Incredibly, they are not even guaranteed a playoff spot as 4th place Naples United can finish on 22 points if they win their three remaining games. Miami FC 2 have a bye this weekend but will be guaranteed a playoff spot without kicking a ball if Miami United lose their last game away at Palm Beach United and Jacksonville Armada win on the road in Naples.
FC have two games remaining, both at home, against Naples United on July 3rd and Boca Raton on July 7th. One win guarantees a top two finish but they need to win both and hope the Armada drop points somewhere to end up in top spot. The team’s form looks good, they’ve won six of their last seven games with the only loss coming on the road to the Armada back on June 6th. FC should finish first or second, but must keep getting points on the board to keep the pressure on Jacksonville.
REMAINING GAMES: vs Naples United (July 3, 7pm), vs Boca Raton (July 7, 7pm)
Up the I-95 in the Bold City the Jacksonville Armada have been getting the job done too. They are three points behind FC with a game in hand but the ace up their sleeves is that if they finish level on points with Miami they are guaranteed to finish 1st as they hold the upper hand on the head-to-head between the two teams (One win, one draw). That’s the first tiebreaker. It can’t come down to goal difference.
The pressure’s on the Armada this weekend. They travel to Naples United on Saturday and the game is a must win if they want to keep their destiny in their own hands. Since beating Miami the Fleet’s form has been up and down. After that game they lost 4-2 in Palm Beach, tied themselves up in Hialeah 1-1 against United, blitzed Boca 7-0 and drew 0-0 with United at home. In their last game they got their noses by Palm Beach 3-2 at home.
Their other two games are away at Storm FC on July 4th and at home to Naples on Saturday 7th. All these games are winnable for Jacksonville, but they must stay perfect to give themselves the best possible chance of finishing first.
REMAINING GAMES: @ Naples United (June 30, 5:00pm), @ Storm FC (July 4, 2:30PM), vs Naples United (July 7, 7:30pm)
Miami United have suffered a severe case of cup hangover and their league campaign has gone totally off the rails. They’ve simply drawn too many games and are out of real contention for 1st place. This weekend is their final game and it’s a good job they are cup specialists because this game is a cup final. They are up against Palm Beach United on the road. PBU have taken the most points off the top three and got a 2-1 win when they played United in Hialeah. There is no chance of Palm Beach rolling over for them as PBU must win this game to keep their own playoff hopes alive.
Since trashing Storm FC 9-0 on May 12 the goals have dried up for United. Indeed if you remove Storm from the equation they haven’t managed more than one goal a game since May 5th. Palm Beach however are good going forward. They’ve scored more goals than the Armada in the same number of games. It’s a must win match up for both teams and should be a cracker. You’d bet on United coming 3rd in the table, but a loss on Saturday would change that thinking.
REMAINING GAMES: @ Palm Beach United (June 30, 7pm)
Although they are 4th and 5th, both Naples United and Palm Beach United will have an eye on beating Miami United to 3rd spot. Both teams have motivation to rip up scripts on Saturday. Naples United need to beat Jacksonville to give themselves a slim hope at 3rd. If they lose, they’re done.
They have a big hand in how the top of the table plays out as their last three games are all against Jacksonville and Miami. Even if three wins is a pretty impossible task they’ll certainly be down to grinding out a point or two to try to finish above PBU if Palm Beach falter.
Palm Beach United cannot be discounted and have a much better shot at 3rd than Naples. If they manage a win against Miami United their last two games are winnable road trips, Boca and then Storm FC. Three wins in their last three games would put them on 21 points and get them in the playoffs, unless Naples somehow also manage three wins. They do have half a chance.
NAPLES UNITED FORM: WDWWL
REMAINING GAMES: vs Jax Armada (June 30, 5pm), @ Miami FC 2 (July 3, 7PM), @ Jax Armada (July 7, 7:30PM)
PALM BEACH UNITED FORM: LLWWL
REMAINING GAMES: vs Miami United (June 30, 7pm), @ Boca Raton (July 3, 7PM), @ Storm FC (July 7, 6pm)
If The Miami FC 2 have learned anything from this season’s NPSL Sunshine Conference escapade it is that you cannot underestimate teams and take games for granted. After the hugely important scoreless draw between Jacksonville Armada and Miami United on Saturday, Miami knew a win in Naples would put them firmly in command in the NPSL Sunshine Conference. But this would be no straightforward evening’s work. Naples United are NPSL stalwarts and they always serve as competitive opponents. After an hour’s rain delay while the usual pre-match thunderstorm moved off into Alligator Alley, the stage was set for an important and intriguing encounter. The first between these two clubs.