It’s the evening of 5th of November 2017. I’m bent double with my head in my hands as the sounds of boisterous celebration by the contingent from the New York Cosmos in Riccardo Silva Stadium confirm that The Miami FC’s 2017 NASL season is over. Mason Trafford has just planted his shootout effort onto the woodwork. For the first time in my life I couldn’t watch a penalty. It meant too much. Of all the players I didn’t want to miss, it was Mason. He’d not put a foot wrong all year, the likable boy from Boynton Beach had become a fan favorite for his consistent performances in defense. Soccer is a sport that writes cruel scripts.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
We’ve mentioned on plenty of our previews that Miami FC is this offensive juggernaut. Most of the times we are sure that you are reading this thinking if we’re just crazy because it’s yet to happen. It finally happened for Miami on Wednesday night in their match against Storm FC. It just so happens that we didn’t write a preview for this match.
The second round of the US Open Cup was a match that many different layers to it. Sure at the top there is the Miami United victory, however, looking back of the match there was a lot that culminated in the result for the NPSL juggernaut. An early goal, high presses that would make your nose bleed, cards galore, and fateful tactical decisions all culminated together to bring Miami FC’s 2018 cup run to an end.