The Miami FC 2 signed off a six-game stand at home by easing past Duluth FC with three unanswered goals.
Somehow the deluge engulfing the rest of Florida on Saturday evening missed the Opa Locka-Miami Gardens area and the fans were treated to lovely evening perfect for soccer. And the fans showed up. The hype of the International Champions Cup and the hoopla of Futbol Miami MLS has not dampened the enthusiasm of the Miami FC faithful. Many people in this part of the World claim to love soccer, the 1289 people who showed up to this claim are probably the ones who mean it. The second highest attendance of the season at the Bob.
They were rewarded handsomely for their loyalty. By turning their noses up to the vacuous ICC happening a few minutes away at the exanimate Hard Rock Stadium they witnessed FC power into the final game of the NPSL playoffs in style. Miami set their stall out early and took the game to the visitors. Jaime Chavez was in the mood, creating a good chance for Mares before going close himself. Duluth were totally defensive. If there was rain in the rest of South Florida, the only rain here was falling on the Duluth net. And the raindrops were soccer balls. Kris Tyrpak hit the post with a great effort. Hoffelner in the Duluth goal was forced into numerous saves which gave Miami a sequence of corner kicks that came to nothing. There was a rocking atmosphere at the Bob. The temporary home of Miami FC has turned into a fortress for the club, they are unbeaten at St. Thomas University.
But the defense held firm until Chavez was felled in the box for a clear penalty. Martinez was the man to take the spot kick and he drove it home confidently to put FC one up. Ariel deserved a goal, he’d been running the show. The first half would end like that thanks mainly to Lady Luck as Chavez thundered a shot onto the crossbar and Mares curled a delicious free kick just wide of the goal. Miami were just 45 minutes away from the ultimate finale.
No changes in personnel and no changes in script for the second half. Duluth were pinned back from the off. Duluth just couldn’t get the ball off Steele, Mares and Martinez in the midfield. Hoffelner continued playing a blinder. He’s on the list for NPSL goalkeeper of the season and it’s easy to see why, the second half saw him underline his credentials with a string of saves. Nothing could be done about The Miami FC 2’s second goal though. Tomas Greco with another assist after he entered play for Martinez. The youngster whipping a ball across for McFarlane to power home with his head.
McFarlane would turn creator in stoppage time. Squaring across the face of goal for another substitute, Jeff Michaud, to force home from close range. It ended 3-0 and it should probably have been more. But that might have been unfair on Duluth who tried to play their part without resorting to some of the dirty tactics we’ve seen this season, in fact there was only one yellow card apiece for the two teams all game.
Just one more game remains and that will be the big one, the NPSL national final vs FC Motown. The outfit from Morristown overcame FC Mulhouse Portland in dramatic fashion with a goal in the dying moments of extra time. Miami will have to travel to New Jersey but one more win will put the exclamation point on this wonderful NPSL adventure.