Few would equate the dynamics of college football with soccer. Somehow, the Magic City Clasico and the NPSL on a shortened schedule shares the chaos, uncertainty, and euphoria of NCAA football. Every game is a must win and the lack of an official “pre-season” means clubs are often thrown straight into the deep end. The University of Miami often had to deal with their season hanging in the balance with Florida State University being their first opponent throughout the 2000’s. For the winner, the path has been cleared for the rest of the campaign. For the loser, panic attacks and prayers hoping to salvage a damaged season. This is what the Magic City Clasico has become.
It’s been a long time. A long, long winter. But now spring is coming and the NPSL is back. Miami FC head into their second NPSL regular season as defending national champions after a celebrated run to the title in 2018. What can we expect this season?
Last month, The Miami FC coach Paul Dalglish gave some clues as to how the club would be built in 2019. This week, fans and observers got a clearer view as to what kind of team might take the field this season.
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.
The Miami FC CEO Sean Flynn and manager Paul Dalglish met members of the press and the general public on Thursday night promoting the club’s new partnership with Soccer Academy of the Americas. However, the club’s leadership also spoke about plans on the field in 2019.
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.
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.