Miami Soccer in Review: 2014 officially starts the MLS madness that would become Inter Miami CF

Miami Soccer in Review | From Left: MLS Commissioner Don Garber, David Beckham and Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Giménez pose at Pérez Art Museum Miami on Feb. 5, 2014. Photo via Pérez Art Museum Miami

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 2014. The announcement Miami’s been waiting for finally comes. And kicks off a half-decade of more waiting.

It was a picture-perfect moment for a picture-perfect day. Don Garber, commissioner of Major League Soccer on one side. Carlos Giménez, mayor of Miami-Dade County on the other. All around, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, a focal point for Miami’s modern development. And standing squarely in the middle: David Beckham.

Beckham stepped onto a state at PAMM after months of mulling his options. Las Vegas and San Diego were among the locales considered, but Miami was the final option.

When asked why he chose Miami, he gave the perfect answer:

“I mean, why not?

“Miami is a vibrant city. It’s a city with a lot of passion. I know this city is ready for football — soccer — this time around. I know that this is going to be successful. I have always said throughout my career, whether there’s challenges or not, to be successful you have to work hard. I’ve worked hard through my whole career, and I’m going to work hard for this city.”

The bid appeared to be a slam dunk, especially with the nexus of league and civic endorsement present. However, Beckham quickly learned the minutiae of politics in South Florida. Lobbying from the powerful cruise industry killed the Beckham group’s first idea: A proposed bayside stadium on Dodge Island. His group’s second idea, to place a stadium next to the AmericanAirlines Arena on a location that is now an abandoned boat slip used by the Florida East Coast Railroad, was also dead within six months. It was foreshadowing of the Sisyphean task in front of Miami Beckham United (the placeholder name for the ownership group).

Miami United championship

Just two years after founding Miami United FC, team president Roberto Sacca built a champion. With a new kit provider (Garman) offering the now-familiar pink, blue, black and white, the team hit the pitch and ran through an undefeated regular season (7-3-0) to claim the Sunshine Conference title. Miami United finally tasted defeat in the NPSL South Region final at the hands of host Chattanooga FC.

ICC Derby Day

The international Champions Cup again targeted Miami for its final (although there would be no consolation games at Sun Life Stadium). Organizers clearly had one team in mind to reach the final: Champions League winners Real Madrid. With a baked-in audience for Los Blancos in South Florida, it would guarantee a sell-out like the stadium saw when Barcelona played Chivas de Guadalajara in 2011. What organizers actually got was something completely different: a foreign matchup of the North West Derby between Liverpool and Manchester United.

Both squads failed to prove the kind of South Florida draw Real would have been, despite the high-profile nature of the matchup for fans around the world. With an announced attendance of 51,014 in the rain, Steven Gerrard scored first but the Red Devils laughed last, claiming the ICC title with a 3-1 victory.

Colleges

It was a rough year on the college side. The best team, the FIU women’s program, went 8-8-2 with a losing record in Conference USA. The FIU men went 6-9-1, with a 2-6-0 record in conference.

The Miami Hurricanes women were even worse than the FIU teams, finishing 4-13-1. That was the worst record the program had posted since Tricia Taliaferro’s 2004 squad went 3-13-0. However, that was the first year the team completed in the rigorous Atlantic Coast Conference, after moving from the Big East.

High Schools

On the boys’ side, it was a solid year at the state championships. Two Dade-based teams claimed titles, including Class 2A Gulliver Prep and Class 5A Columbus. Class 1A Hillel also reached the state semis, falling to Orlando First Academy in overtime.

On the girls’ side, only Palmetto Bay’s Palmer Trinity reached the state semifinals, falling to St. Johns Country Day 7-0.

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