It’s been a while since Miami FC have faced off against the football club from “La Isla Bonita,” Puerto Rico FC. These teams know each other well although it doesn’t really seem that they play often. Perhaps that’s because these games have been less notable than those against other NASL foes.
In the four meetings between these two clubs over the past year Miami holds the advantage with a record of 2-1-1. These two teams will begin a home and home stretch over the next seven days with both clubs returning to Miami for a showdown next Saturday. As we’ve seen with other back to back fixtures, the second game tends to be the breaking point for the frustration and tempers of the first match. To add more drama to this situation, Puerto Rico holds the goal differential advantage as both teams sit atop the table.
“Wait, did you just say Puerto Rico FC are sitting atop the NASL table?” Indeed they are. Puerto Rico has not lost a match in the fall campaign. Coming into this match 2-3-0, Puerto Rico has been able to nullify the opposing attack and get enough out of their own forwards to claim three points. Alternating wins and draws, Puerto Rico has managed to beat a struggling Armada squad (twice) and split the points against North Carolina, San Francisco, and Edmonton. Should the trend hold, Puerto Rico hopes to earn another three points tonight.
Former MLS players Conor Doyle and Jordi Quintilla have led Puerto Rico to calmer waters. The pairing has managed four of the five goals (Gentile with the other tally) in a resuscitation effort of PRFC’s season. Despite leading the early fall table, PRFC still sits in seventh in the combined nine points out of the playoffs. Realistically, the only chance to earn a spot in the playoffs would be to hold on to the lead through October.
The beginning of the season was a “Freaky Friday” like swap of roles. Miami FC came into the fall as one may have expected PRFC to perform. After dropping their first three matches (one cup loss), the Blues have been able to reel off three straight wins. With stellar performances from Daniel Vega (two clean sheets) and solid performances by Jaime Chavez and Ariel Martinez, Miami has been able to claw their way back up the fall campaign.
Although the scoring is lower, it’s important to remember that Miami is doing this without strikers Vincenzo Rennella and Stefano Pinho. Rennella who went down with an undisclosed injury a few weeks ago was left off the squad entirely for the match against the Armada although receiving minutes in North Carolina. Pinho went down with an apparent ankle injury two weeks ago and has yet to return to the lineup. Hopefully, Miami will at least regain the services of Rennella in tonight’s match in order to regain control of the table.
Tonight’s match might just come down to who is available for Miami FC. Give credit to newly signed Lovel Palmer, his ability to play multiple roles has allowed Miami to keep the opposition of the scoreboard. Miami’s attack may need reinforcements against the PRFC defense, who has allowed less than a goal per game over their last eight games.
Score Prediction: Puerto Rico FC 1 – 2 Miami FC