Tonight’s NPSL Sunshine Conference match-up shouldn’t make any supporter of Miami FC nervous. The truth is Storm FC have one point in seven games and have given up 26 more goals than they have scored (1). Realistically there is little to worry about during tonight’s contest as it’s very unlikely that Miami FC will drop points of any kind to Storm. However, this match is incredibly important when it comes to Miami’s standing in the conference table when it comes down to goal differential.
The United States Men’s National Team is currently mired in one of its more humiliating periods in the modern era (failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup). Men in Blazers co-host Roger Bennett thought it would be a good time to reflect on the other calamity since America’s return to the world soccer stage in 1990: The U.S. Men’s National Team’s failure at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. His series, “American Fiasco,” produced with WNYC Studios, looks back at all the ways the U.S. fell short leading up to and during that World Cup campaign. The seven-part podcast, however, offers a small look into how Miami played a small role in John Harkes being removed from the team, a key part of the failure that would arrive in the summer of 1998.
Before the World Cup, many believed the United States was ready to emerge as a potential dark horse to compete in the tournament. However, qualifying proved to be difficult and manager Steve Sampson was dealing with stress and injuries to the squad. Left back Jeff Agoos had been injured in a friendly against Mexico on Feb. 15, 1998. In response to this, Sampson turned to his “Captain for Life” to fill in the gap left by Agoos for the team’s match against The Netherlands at Pro Player Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) in Miami Gardens on Feb. 21.
According to Bennett’s interview with Sampson, Harkes was less than thrilled (you can hear Sampson and Harkes themselves describe the situation in full on Episode 5, about 14 minutes in):
“[Harkes] then says to me, ‘I did not come back from England to play as an outside back. I came back to play in the middle of midfield,'” Sampson told Bennett. “And I looked at him, and I said ‘So you’re telling me that you can only play in one position where you want to play, and that your national team coach is asking you to play this role for this game and you’re refusing to do so.’
“I’d never experienced that, in my entire career, a player telling a coach that he wasn’t willing to play in a certain position.”
Harkes had a different perspective, yet agreed he wasn’t fully sold on the idea of playing left back in Miami.
“I thought that he kept saying I didn’t embrace it, and for me, I was like ‘I’m doing my best here,'” Harkes said. “At times, it was his way or the highway. He had taken on this persona that he was the man in charge.”
Harkes played the game as left back, but the damage had been done.
Sampson identified three “strikes” that took Harkes from his “Captain for Life” to off the 1998 U.S. World Cup squad. This incident, where Harkes didn’t initially accept the role, was strike one. Strike two was a night out in Brussles that Sampson did not approve of, and strike three was an affair Harkes had with the wife of U.S. teammate Eric Wynalda.
None of this changes the past, of course. However, this additional context about Sampson’s decision makes the 1998 World Cup flameout a little easier to understand. And, of course, Miami had to play a role.
After a lackluster performance against Boca Raton FC and a draw against conference-leaders Jacksonville Aramada, Miami United FC were looking to get back on the right foot. Enter Storm FC.
Storm FC, a team United had put nine past in their earlier matchup, was just what the doctor ordered, as United scored three at Ted Hendricks Stadium to claim a vital three points in the Sunshine Conference.
Miami United and Jacksonville Armada seemed content to match Gucci Mane’s Lemonade on Wednesday: It was all yellow everything. In a classic NPSL scrappy match that got out of hand, yellows were being tossed around left and right. But Miami United clawed back and drew the match, 1-1.
Next month, after the 2018 FIFA World Cup concludes in Russia, the eyes of the soccer world will turn to the International Champions Cup. Miami-Dade County will be hosting two men’s matches and the entirety of the women’s tournament. Before the main show, though, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are visiting Miami this month to tease their face-off at Hard Rock Stadium on July 28.
Now that we know that the United States will be hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico, the next drama to unfold will relate to the cities that are chosen to host group and knockout stage games. 23 cities were included in the Bid Book, but only 16 will make the final cut.
We know that three cities in Canada and Mexico will host matches. That means out of the 16 American cities included in the book, 10 will make the final cut. What clues exist to the 10 that could be chosen? Some valuable information can be found in the Bid Evaluation Report submitted by the 2026 Bid Evaluation Task Force to the FIFA Council earlier this month.
The Miami FC 2 got back on track Wednesday night, defeating Palm Beach United 4-1 at Bobcat Field at St. Thomas University.
Palm Beach United isn’t generally considered in the top echelon of the National Premier Soccer League’s Sunshine Conference. However, they’ve managed two wins against teams who are in that top tier (Miami United and Jacksonville Armada). For the second time this season, through, Miami FC 2 was able to handle the matchup with ease.
According to sources with the club, forward Vincenzo Rennella is no longer with The Miami FC 2. Rennella’s name is no longer included on the club’s website.
The 68th FIFA Congress 2018 took place in Moscow on Thursday, and after presentations from Morocco and the United 2026 bid featruing the United States of America, Canada and Mexico, the United bid was selected to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
In this episode of the Magic City Soccer podcast, Matt and Omar finish their FIFA World Cup group stage preview just in the nick of time, taking a look at groups E-H of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Join us, won’t you?
Thanks to our sponsor, Groundhopper, for helping to make this Magic City Soccer episode happen!