Miami FC Survive Early Scare From Tulsa; Win 4-1

Saturday’s NPSL South Region Semi-Final was the third time in fourteen games that Miami FC went into the break trailing. Tulsa managed to enter half-time with a lead and keep Miami off the scoreboard, which hasn’t happened since the second game of the season. It was a rocky start for the Orange and Blue, but as we’ve learned lately, you can’t ever count this team out.

Nothing is given at this stage of the playoffs in the NPSL. Every blade of grass must be earned as the league’s best teams look to make their mark against the defending champions. You don’t have to ask around to know that Miami FC carry a massive target on their backs. For Tulsa, the target seemed much more obtainable once noticing that captain Dylan Mares was not on the team sheet.

First Half

Paul Dalglish opened the match making two changes from Tuesday’s win against Chattanooga. The aforementioned Mares and Dario Suarez did not start, with Shawn Chin and Hector Morales getting the call. Tulsa’s keeper Bryson Reed would leave his mark early by making some key saves in the opening moments of the match. Miami seemed eager to jump ahead early and put the game to bed but Reed had other ideas.

In the 20th minute Ariel Martinez, who has scored in the last three matches, would be denied by Reed keeping Tulsa in the game. The save would prove extra crucial just minutes later as Tulsa stuck first. In the 25th minute, a deflection forward fell at the feet of Aboubakr Diallo. Diallo would cash in on the lucky break by beating a charging Mark Pais.

The Orange and Blue would dominate possession and get a few more cracks at an equalizer but Reed would be up to the task again. The half-time substitutions and adjustments would pay off for Dalglish’s men yet again. Dario Suarez would come into the match for Mohamed Thiaw, slotting Martinez back into the false 9 role.

Second Half

Miami would dominate the first ten minutes of the second half with their best chance coming from Othello Bah. Bah would hit a screamer that raced across the face of goal but couldn’t be finished by another FC player. Moments later, Dalglish would call upon his bench against as Brian James would get in for Chin.

In the 61st minute, Miami FC would find their equalizer. Tomas Granitto found himself in space about 30 yards from goal. The El Salvadorian international blasted one that caught the underside of the cross bar and was headed in by an alert Miguel Gonzalez. Tulsa were visibly stunned by the goal and the floodgates were about to open.

Eight minutes later, Hector Morales would begin his takeover of the contest. After a brief spell of possession from Tulsa, Morales was given a feed from Brenton Griffiths. Having to come deep in the defensive midfield, his awareness to spot a deep run from Dario Suarez was outstanding. Hitting the Cuban winger in stride, Suarez was able to beat Reed nearside giving Miami their first lead of the night.

In the 82nd minute, it was Suarez finding his countryman Martinez darting forward. The aerial through ball landed perfectly for Martinez. The Magic City Mago raced away from the final Tulsa defender before being taken down in the penalty area. In his third penalty attempt in the past three games, converted yet again to double Miami’s lead.

Miami would add a fourth goal to the scoreboard as Morales and Martinez would link up on a counter. After a crafty give and go, Morales would spring Martinez lose beating everyone. Martinez would beat Reed low and to the right-hand side earning his brace and Miami a spot in the national semi-final.

The Road Ahead

Miami FC will face Cleveland SC in the NPSL National Semi-Final
Miami FC will face Cleveland SC in the NPSL National Semi-Final

After Sunday’s results the national semi-finals have been set. The New York Cosmos were victorious over FC Baltimore and will face ASC San Diego. Cleveland SC outlasted Detroit City on penalty kicks Sunday afternoon, earning their bout with Miami. Miami FC will be hosting what potentially is their final home match on Saturday June 27th. To buy your tickets to the match click here now!

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