Magic City Soccer will take the last 10 days of 2019 to review the last 10 years of Miami-Dade County soccer. Today in Miami Soccer in Review, we take a look back at 2012. It was still a relative dark age for competitive soccer in Miami, but a flicker of hope would appear: Miami United FC.
When Miami FC played its last game in Miami-Dade in 2009, the expectation of MLS filling the gap was present. But by 2012, that dream was dead and (as of that point) had no likelihood of being revived. One man saw the opening and decided to fill it: entrepreneur Roberto Sacca.
In 2012, Sacca announced the formation of Miami United FC, a club that immediately developed an identity (while the Flamingo logo didn’t last forever, the flashy colors consistently gives the club one of the best kits in America). It would first kick off in 2013, but would win its NPSL Sunshine Conference only one year later.
In a market famous for struggle and failure, Sacca’s Miami United grew to grab international headlines (see the Adriano signing), but managed to maintain growth across the years. This includes hosting MLS side Orlando City SC in a U.S. Open Cup matchup in 2018.
Other clubs would soon compete in the market, but Miami United holds a unique place in modern Miami soccer history.
Hard Rock Stadium (then Sun Life Stadium) hosted two high-profile games. In July, the stadium hosted another game in the World Football Challenge. AC Milan bested Champions League winners Chelsea, 1-0.
The more interesting game took place a month before, when Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez (not yet FC Barcelona teammates) led a squad of all-stars in the World Masters Tour. The Black Masters, led by Messi, tied Suarez’s Red Stars 7-7 (yes, the scoreline is correct).
A total of 48,327 turned out in a soaking rain to watch an exhibition featuring Messi, Suarez, Didier Drogba, Radamel Falcao, Diego Forlan, Guillermo Ochoa, Edison Cavani, Diego Perez, Ariel Ortega, Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu and Jozy Altidore.
After a bumper 2011 for local college soccer, a retreat in 2012 could be expected.
While the FIU men didn’t score any major upsets like in 2011, they did finish with a winning record (8-7-2) for the first time since 2005.
The FIU women had another solid season, finishing 11-6-2 and tying for the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title. However, North Texas downed the Panthers in the conference tournament final, 1-0. That meant no conference championship, and no NCAA Tournament.
The Miami Huricanes’ women would finish 9-7-4, good for seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference and another NCAA Tournament bid. In just his second year, head coach Tom Anagnost had accomplished back-to-back bids for only the second time in program history. Anagnost would not coach the Hurricanes in 2013. More on that to come.
On the boys’ side, there were only two Miami-based semifinalists across the different classes. In Class 1A, Westminster Christian was eliminated by Evangelical Christian, 3-2. In Class 4A, American was eliminated by Seminole, 4-1.
On the girls’ side, Palmer Trinity was the only Dade school to reach the semifinals. They did advance out of the Final Four before falling to St. Johns Country Day, 7-1. In an interesting historical footnote, this would be the first of eight consecutive Class 1A titles, a streak that continues to today.