Miami United, playing in the 2020 Open Cup qualifying tournament under their U-23 banner, edged out Florida Soccer Soldiers 2-1 in an enthralling encounter at Orange Bowl Field, Ives Estates Park on Sunday evening.
A clear and dry fall evening in this part of Miami, not that you would know it by the soaring temperature and high humidity, an unseasonably warm day for mid-October that delivered a red hot game of soccer for the 150 fans in attendance.
Soldiers started on the front foot, wrenching the ball from United and enjoying the majority of early possession. Andres Ruiz de Somocurcio and Jose Boggio in particular enjoying plenty of time on the ball and Josduar Serrano making some trademark runs from his full back position down the right flank. But there were few clear cut chances created as Miami United’s experienced back line kept Soldiers #9 Bryan Perea very quiet.
As the half wore on Miami United began to grow into the game with their physical edge beginning to show. They were starting to give Soldiers less and less time on the ball with a lot of pressing and hard, but fair, tackling. Soon, United were rewarded with the game’s first goal, Matias Solari forcing the ball home from close range after a corner caused chaos in the penalty area.
The second half started as the first finished. Soldiers struggling to keep the ball and get their passing game going. United were happy for this to continue and protect their one goal lead. With time running out Soccer Soldiers went a bit more direct with their play and got their breakthrough. Perea was finding more and more space in the final third and got the equalizer with a great finish, latching on to a through ball from midfield.
Extra time looked to be certain with less than 15 minutes left to find a match winning goal. Soldiers looked the more likely of the two teams to find it. United can thank goalkeeper Omar Soto for keeping the scores level with a few good saves. The high standard of the play for the whole game really underlined the quality present at this level in South Florida.
Two minutes into injury time at the end of the second half disaster struck for the team that captured everyone’s hearts with their run in the 2019 competition. With a huge gap gaping down the left hand side, United went raiding into the space and a perfect cross was swung over for Nicolas Micoli to thump a free header into the net from point blank range. The contingent of Miami United supporters cheered a great goal that sees their team head into the third qualifying round to play Hurricane FC of Delray Beach, who hammered Orlando Wolves 7-1.