It was a game of firsts for The Miami FC 2, yet it seemed very similar at the same time. A new name. A new coach. Many new names.
Yet it was a number of familiar faces who led the way, as Miami FC 2 claimed its first victory, defeating Weston FC 5-0 to open the 2018 preseason at Bobcat Field at St. Thomas University.
Don’t want to miss our next live broadcast or podcast? Subscribe on Periscope here!
Weston FC, of the Premier Development League, came in as obvious underdogs. And Miami FC 2 (containing a number of players from The Miami FC of the North American Soccer League last season) came in looking to start on the right foot.
The first few minutes were rather static, with Miami FC 2 maintaining most of the possession, and Weston FC content to let them try to build from the back.
In the eighth minute, however, Vincenzo Rennella left his mark on the game. The second-leading scorer in the NASL for 2017, Rennella turned and fired a low shot across the face of goal that beat the Weston FC goalkeeper.
After the first goal, opportunities appeared to open up for Miami FC 2, although open play left a lot to be desired. In the 25th minute, the pressure finally payed off, when Weston FC were forced to foul and newly acquired Don Smart stepped up to take the free kick. A well-struck, curling shot into the upper-left corner of the net doubled the Miami FC 2 advantage.
It was the second half where Miami FC 2 were finally able to show off the attacking possibilities they truly possessed. Ariel Martinez, the newly minted No. 10 for Miami FC 2, was able to dazzle, controlling play for much of the half.
“[Martinez] is a quality player. He can make the difference. I think he’s an exciting player and everyone loves watching him play when he’s in full flow,” head coach Paul Dalglish told Magic City Soccer after the match. “What we want to try and do with players like him and Dylan [Mares] is get them on the ball in a central position … where they can cause as much damage as possible and I think you saw that today.”
The first goal of the second half came from Mares, who headed in a lovely cross from Stefano Fanfoni two minutes after the resumption of play. Fanfoni got in on the scoring action himself in the 54th minute with the most acrobatic goal of the day, a scissors kick coming off a cross from Angelo Rubiano.
It was Martinez who would help to finish off the scoring in the 62nd minute with a perfectly weighted through ball to Jaime Chávez, who was able to finish past the Weston FC goalkeeper.
The last 30 minutes of the game provided more opportunites for Miami FC, but it appeared five would be the limit of the day for the squad.
“It was good. It’s hot when you play at this time, 11 o’clock kick off … so the quality the guys showed I was really, really pleased with.” Dalglish said. “You saw some of the concepts we were working on come out. We’re much further ahead of where we thought we’d be at this stage. Really, really pleased.”
Instead of using an “A-team” and a “B-team,” Dalglish appeared to go witha split-squad approach. Stong players were fielded in both halves, mixing squad veterans and new faces.
“Just wanted to give everyone a chance to be in the Starting 11 come the first game of the season.” Dalglish said. “I think it’s important to give everybody a chance. We’ve been training for two weeks; some people come into preseason fitter than others. I don’t really want to form my opinions too early. I want to give everyone a chance to stake a claim for the first team.”
Miami FC 2’s next preseason match will be an “away” game, as the squad will take on St. Thomas University at Bobcat Field on Sunday, March 25 at 7 p.m. From there, it’s three weeks before the National Premier Soccer League season opener against Miami United FC.