Magic City Soccer will take the last 10 days of 2019 to review the last 10 years of Miami-Dade County soccer. We reviewed 2010 on Monday, and now offer Miami Soccer in Review for 2011.
2011 continued a dearth of professional, competitive soccer in Miami-Dade County. However, a trend would develop during the year: International club friendlies.
In 2019, it’s now newsworthy if Miami doesn’t host a high-profile friendly featuring one of Europe’s best clubs. But in 2011, when Barcelona announced it would be coming to Miami to face Chivas de Guadalajara at Sun Life Stadium, it grabbed attention. A record crowd of more than 70,000 went home disappointed after Chivas grabbed a rather stunning upset. However, it was then fans themselves that provided the most significant development of the night: Soccer is a big-time draw in Miami.
National team visit
2011 saw another rare occurrence in South Florida soccer: A visit by the U.S. National Team.
A 1-0 victory over Honduras marked the first victory in the tumultuous stewardship of Jurgen Klinsmann. It was a washout, and featured a noticeably smaller crowd than watched Barcelona a few months before, but provided another platform for Miami soccer on the national stage.
FIU men’s soccer remained under .500, with a 5-8-4 record. However, there were signs of life in the program. On a day it honored the 15th anniversary of its 1996 team reaching the national championship game, the FIU men pulled an upset overtime victory over then-No. 21 Kentucky. Roberto de Sousa scored the winning goal.
The men also managed a draw against then-No. 6 UCF.
The FIU women didn’t need to wait for glory like the men. After a losing record in 2010, the women went 13-7-3 to claim the Sun Belt Conference tournament title and earn their first NCAA berth since 1993.
The women wouldn’t repeat 1993, where they defeated Duke before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina. A 2-0 loss to UCF in Orlando ended any grander aspirations.
2011 would see the Miami Hurricanes reach new heights with its women’s soccer program. New hire Tom Anagnost, brought in to replace nine-year coach Tricia Taliaferro, not only got the Canes to the NCAA Tournament, but won a game for the first time in program history, defeating Alabama 3-2. Miami defeated No. 9 Boston College and No. 16 Maryland in the span of a week.
On the boys’ side, Varela reached the Class 6A title game, losing to Broward’s Cypress Bay. Belen Jesuit reached the Class 4A state semifinals, losing to Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee 3-2.
On the girls’ side, Gulliver Prep defeated St. Petersburg Catholic 2-0 to take the Class 3A title, while Palmetto lost a heartbreaking double-overtime Class 6A semifinal, 2-1.