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 2013. An international superstar started to sniff around Miami, but what many hoped would be the beginning of the end of Miami’s time without Major League Soccer would turn out to only be the beginning of the beginning.
It felt like Miami was the center of the sports world in the summer of 2013. The Miami Heat were on their way to a second consecutive NBA Finals win, and attracting attention from all corners. One of the interested parties was soccer superstar David Beckham, who sat courtside during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He was the guest of a high-profile Miami-based CEO: Brightstar’s Marcelo Claure.
Their presence at that game on May 30 was a hint of a larger story to break the following week: Beckham, who retained a $25 million expansion fee clause with Major League Soccer, would look to bring a side to Miami-Dade County.
Beckham toured the county and its soccer venues. Afterward, Mayor Carlos Gimenez gave Beckham the keys to the county.
“I think bringing an MLS team here to South Florida would be exciting,” Beckham told WFOR-CBS4. “I think Miami fans are very passionate about the sport and about winning and of course, it would have to be success but it’s definitely exciting.”
Before the end of the year, the Associated Press would confirm Beckham picked Miami as his location of interest. The story gained so much traction that LeBron James would also confirm that Beckham reached out to him to potentially join an ownership group. The bandwagon was forming. Miami seemed destined for MLS sooner rather than later.
With (pardon the pun) 20/20 hindsight, we know how many thing would go awry. James would leave Miami in 2014 to return to Cleveland. Major League Soccer and logistical issues would eliminate temporary venues in west and north Miami-Dade. Beckham and Claure were driven to within days of abandoning the project altogether. But, more on that later.
A club debut
Miami United FC, formed in 2012 and debuted in 2013, first taking the field against the Cape Coral Hurricanes on May 4. Thankfully, some video from that 3-0 victory remains on YouTube.
The game, played at Flamingo Park in Miami Beach, did not yet feature the familiar blue, pink, black and white that Miami United now sports. However, the solid win as a debutante would give a look into the possibilities for the club in the near future.
International Champions Cup
A corporate acquisition doesn’t scream soccer significance. However, on October 4, 2012, RSE Ventures (co-founded by Matt Higgins and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross) announced it acquired the rights to the World Football Challenge. The announcement meant that the World Football Challenge was dead. The International Champions Cup replaced it in 2013. It also meant Miami would enter into a new era as summer soccer hub.
The new tournament would feature matches across the country (and even one match in Spain). However, the championship round (which included four matches) would all take place at Sun Life Stadium across two days.
Juventus vs. Inter Milan (Inter winners 1-1, 9-8 on penalties). Everton vs. Valencia (Valencia 1-0 winners). AC Milan vs. LA Galaxy (Milan 2-0 victors). And finally, Real Madrid and Chelsea contesting the final in front of 67,273. Los Blancos bested the boys in blue, 3-1.
If 2011 was a taste, and 2012 was a growth period, 2013 provided an explosion of European club soccer visiting South Florida during the summer. As we spend this week reflecting on Miami Soccer in Review, these games are truly significant to note.
The FIU men backslid from 2012, posting a 6-10-1 record with a dismal 2-6-1 record in conference.
The FIU women also slipped, finishing 7-12, though nearly breaking even in conference.
Perhaps the most interesting college story didn’t happen on the field at all. Tom Anagnost, who in his two season with the Miami Hurricanes’ women’s program led the team to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, was dismissed in April. Cryptic clues came from Athletic Director Blake James in a discussion with the Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman. Excerpts from Kaufman’s story are below:
James, reached later by phone, said it wasn’t one incident that led to the firing and that the team’s win-loss record was “not a big part’’ of the decision.
“A variety of factors went into the decision,” James said. “We felt it was better to make the move now rather than move forward with him as the leader. We have been evaluating the situation for some time and just felt in the overall view of the program that we didn’t have the right person in that position, so why wait to make the change?”
Mary-Frances Monroe would take over and post a 9-8-1 record in 2013. She would never reach the same level of success Anagnost found.
On the girls’ side, two teams reach the state finals, but neither team lifted a trophy. In Class 2A, Gulliver Prep fell to Trinity Catholic 4-1. In Class 5A, Lourdes came achingly close, falling to Ovideo 1-0 after a 5-3 round of penalty kicks.
Three teams reached the Final Four on the boys’ side, and two of them reached the state finals, but Dade County was again locked out of championships. In Class 1A, Hillel lost to Tampa Prep 1-0 in the final. In Class 2A, the Gulliver boys also fell on the last step, this time to Jacksonville Bolles 1-0. And in Class 3A, Palmetto fell to American Heritage 3-1.