The highly anticipated rematch between the top two teams in the NASL fall table is here. As we mentioned last week, the fall season has been a reverse of fortune for teams who found themselves at the bottom in the spring. Positions three and four are currently held by Edmonton and North Carolina who need a magical run in this campaign to earn a spot in the NASL playoffs.
It feels like just about a fortnight ago that we discussed Miami and North Carolina FC. In fairness, it’s been ten days since these two clubs faced off in what was an exciting end to any soccer match. North Carolina were able to steal all three points from Miami by converting their third goal of the night from a set piece.
How have the two teams fared since that match on the fifth of August? Miami came back with a vengeance but suffered some setbacks in a 3-1 victory over the Indy Eleven. North Carolina could only manage a point in a 2-2 draw with the Jacksonville Armada.
Miami enters this game venturing into uncharted territory. Only once in club history have they dropped four matches in a row. To call the third game of the fall season a must win is hyperbole at best, however, that may be the sentiment inside the locker room tonight for the Blues.
Three weeks ago, The Miami FC was the hottest club in North American soccer. Just coming off a 14-game unbeaten streak, the club defeated second-place San Francisco Deltas 7-0 to claim the NASL Spring Season title and had everything to look forward to in a matchup against FC Cincinnati in which it would be favored. Mother Nature intervened and forced a postponement to Aug. 2. Three weeks isn’t that long, right?
For Miami FC and its fans (10,415 of whom showed up Wednesday night — a club record), it feels like an eternity. The club is officially on a losing streak, capped off with the indignity of a 1-0 home shutout to Cincinnati and an ignoble exit from a memorable U.S. Open Cup run.
The midfield has been The Miami FC’s best weapon this season. Not only can they provide extra bodies on defense in hectic situations, but they have been the key to allowing the forwards to counterattack quickly. Richie Ryan, Dylan Mares, and Michael Lahoud have all shined in the spring season playing different roles in the midfield. This unit has unlocked many of the answers against NASL and U.S. Open Cup opponents. Let’s take a look at the trio’s season so far and their best moments.
What a difference a year makes.
Back in 2016 with the spring season of the NASL drawing to a close, The Miami FC were struggling. Porous at the back and mis-firing up front, the promise the franchise showed off the pitch had not been fulfilled. They finished 11th of 11 and deserved no more than that.
Fast-forward 12 months and Alessandro Nesta’s men are playing scintillating soccer, marauding their way to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals and trouncing teams by four goals… seven goals even, while also keeping clean sheets. So what has changed? In truth, it’s not been a revolution but an evolution.
It was over after 15 minutes.
In a stunning display of dominance, The Miami FC scored three times against the San Francisco Deltas in 15 minutes Saturday night. After that, they didn’t let up and and won in a showing befitting a champion, 7-0.
The win clinched the NASL Spring Chanpionship for Miami FC, the first title for a professional soccer team in this city’s history.
In an unexpectedly tight matchup, The Miami FC of the North American Soccer League survived a serious challenge from South Florida Surf of the Premier Development League in order to advance to the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Cobb Stadium on the campus of the University of Miami on Wednesday.