Much was said before the game with Loudoun United about The Miami FC now having a string of cup finals to end the season. It was plain to see for everyone on Sunday afternoon that the performance from the Orange and Blue was not up to the standard required for any kind of big game.
The Miami FC turned things around in the last ten minutes of last night’s game versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds to grab all three points in an important matchup at the top of the USL Championship Atlantic Division.
A lovely clear fall evening in the 305 with a slight breeze blowing through Riccardo Silva Stadium set the stage for a good game between two evenly matched teams. The encounter exploded into life as fans were treated to a couple of quick-fire goals from the combatants in the first five minutes.
Kenardo Forbes grabbed the opener for the visitors, blasting home from a narrow angle after making a good run to find some space in the area. The Riverhounds had barely finished their celebrations when they were caught cold by Sean McFarlane. The Miami fullback spotted a run by Lamar Walker and the Jamaican made no mistake from close range.
4'- Lamar Walker takes it and evens us up!!!
— The Miami FC (@TheMiamiFC) October 2, 2021
For the rest of the half the teams traded jabs without too many clear cut chances. Pittsburgh were well-organized in defense and transitioned to attack dangerously. Clearly they had done their homework on Miami’s danger men. Christiano Francois struggled to get into the game at times as he was man-marked by the imposing Jelani Peters. Pittsburgh knew the danger posed by Francois and Billy Forbes down the flanks and set themselves up to contain them.
Second half fight
A worrying moment for the FC faithful came when goalkeeper Connor Sparrow was accidentally clobbered by an opponent as he was claiming a ball. As Brian Sylvestre was reaching for the gloves on the bench, Sparrow sprung back up to his feet determined to carry on. A moment that embodies the fighting spirit of this Miami FC side, something they would have to draw on in the second half.
Not long after the hour mark the Riverhounds Russell Cicerone hit the post with an effort. They went one better just after that. Thomas Williamson sent the ball into the area. A rare lapse from Paco Craig at the back saw him just miss a clearing header. Kenardo Forbes snuck away from Othello Bah to head home his second of the evening at the far post to the delight of the small band of Steel Army supporters who had made the trip down.
That's No. 5⃣ by the captain, his highest career total in a season! Well done, @KenardoF!
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) October 3, 2021
This game had big ramifications for the 2nd place spot in the division. Miami were three points behind the Riverhounds coming into the game. With Pittsburgh taking the lead, that gap increased to six.
With Miami not making enough of an impact in the game and needing at least one goal, head coach Paul Dalglish once again pulled off an inspired substitution and tactical change. Nijah Reid and Pierre Da Silva entered the game for Löbe and captain Ariel Martinez. With less than ten minutes remaining Reid drew a couple of ball watching Riverhounds out of position and fizzed a ball across the 18 yard box to Othello Bah who lashed home an unstoppable finish.
83'- WE'RE EQUAL!!!
Othello sends a rocket in the back of the net! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/TUc517J6ai
— The Miami FC (@TheMiamiFC) October 3, 2021
Pittsburgh’s second had been a bit of a gift from the Miami backline. But they were happy to return the favor for the game winning goal for FC. Francois found acres of space on the halfway line and the visitors inexplicably left Da Silva totally unmarked. Francois played a perfect pass, Da Silva took one lovely first touch and hammered home the game winner.
— The Miami FC (@TheMiamiFC) October 3, 2021
The final score 3-2 to Miami. They remain 3rd in the table but equal on points with the Riverhounds plus Miami have one game in hand. Pittsburgh return to Miami on October 17th for a rematch. Before that though The Miami FC travel to bottom-of-the-table Loudoun United next Sunday.
As the end of summer draws near, Miami FC will try to stay hot as they host the New York Red Bulls II at FIU Stadium on Sunday night.
Miami (10-6-4, 34 pts) has to be feeling great about where they stand heading into the final two months of the season. After a rocky start to the season, the Blue and Orange have earned at least a point in 10 of their past 11 matches dating back to June 26. That impressive stretch has given Miami FC a legitimate shot at competing for the Atlantic Division crown along with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
NYRBII, on the other hand, has headed in the opposite direction. The wheels have come off for the Baby Bulls, who have lost five straight matches heading into Sunday’s match.
The Miami FC returns to FIU in front of home fans for the for the second time this the season on Sunday evening. It’s an intriguing encounter with a Charleston Battery side who are just one place behind them in the table.
Don’t look now, but Miami FC is the hottest team in the entire USL Championship. After defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies in front of a home crowd for the first time since joining the Championship, Miami heads north for another important divisional match against Hartford Athletic.
The Miami FC were on a mission as they arrived in Leesburg, Virginia. Miami is an awkward stage of their 2021 USL Championship season having played more games than the other Atlantic Division contenders. Miami FC came into the match 5-2-5 having amassed 17 points in their first 12 matches. With Head Coach Paul Dalglish still away from the sidelines, Miami turned to assistant coach Andy Thomson again to run the squad.
Coming into the match the Tampa Bay Rowdies (8-0-2) were the heavy favorites vs Miami FC (4-2-5). Up until this point Miami had only recorded one win against the Rowdies; a hard fought 2-0 in their memorable 2017 U.S Open Cup run. Miami desperately needed a win to stay in contention for a playoff spot and achieved that with style and confidence against one of the toughest opponents in the league.
Shuffling some players around following last week’s defeat to Charleston Battery, Miami looked to Francois and Walker to provide a burst down the wings. Captain Speedy Williams replaced Ariel Martinez in the number 10 role and Ballard was given a start at right back. Miami FC got off to a slow start with the first chance coming for Birmingham Legion’s Serbena Lapa who had his shot sail harmlessly over the crossbar. After a sluggish start Miami began to enjoy some possession in midfield giving Speedy the time he needed to start picking out runs into the box.
The Miami FC got the start it wanted Friday night, but a strong opening 10 minutes was not nearly enough. Two Charleston Battery goals sealed the Orange and Blue’s fate, sending the club to its second defeat in the month of June.
In an exclusive interview with Magic City Soccer, Miami FC CEO Michael Williamson confirmed the club’s repopulation plan for the 2021 season. Fans will be back in attendance for the July 17th fixture against in-state rivals the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the first time in 616 days. Williamson outlined what to expect and the cost to attend the remaining nine home games in the 2021 season on Episode 93 which you can list to by clicking here.