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 2015. An unexpected rival enters the Miami professional soccer market, and plans to be playing games sooner than anyone would imagine.
By the middle point 2015, the David Beckham proposal bandied about anonymously in 2013 and shared publicly in February 2014 was looking ragged. Proposals for Dodge Island and Downtown were shot down. A compromise location next to Marlins Park was being stonewalled by property owners abutting the stadium’s property. It was clear that building a stadium would be the defining problem of the plan.
Seeing the instability, Italian businessman and investor Riccardo Silva made a play. Silva and Italian legend Paolo Maldini announced that The Miami FC would be competing in the North American Soccer League in the 2016 season. Instead of building a new venue, it would play at Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium. A head coach (Alessandro Nesta) and jersey unveiling soon followed.
The club would find great success (including a 2017 regular-season double of Spring and Fall Season titles) before facing the closure of the NASL and a forced relegation to the National Premier Soccer League. Despite the challenges, The Miami FC has played 116 games, including two again Major League Soccer competition, in the time the now-named Inter Miami CF has tried to start playing at all.
Shift in friendly venue
Sun Life Stadium hosted no summer friendlies due to renovations. The Miami Dolphins used as much time as they could to work on the stadium’s half-billion dollar improvement.
The stadium that hosted the notable friendly in 2015 was the aforementioned Ocean Bank Field. San Lorenzo of Argentina squared off with Atletico Nacional of Colombia. San Lorenzo, the preferred team of Pope Francis, were victorious, 2-0.
The FIU men’s squad finally broke through, making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. The season included two ranked wins, over No. 9 Old Dominion and No. 22 Florida Gulf Coast in the span of four days.
The FIU women did not find the same success, struggling to a 8-11 record. That included four losses to close the season and a 6-1 thumping by the Florida Gators.
The UM women fared even worse, falling to 5-12. However, goalkeeper Catalina Pérez received a tremendous honor, being called up from the U-23 squad to join Colombia’s roster at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. Due to injury, she actually started Colombia’s first-ever knockout-round match against the United States before being red carded in the 47th minute.
On the girls’ side, Miami Country Day was the only Dade side to reach the state semifinals, falling to Lakeland Christian 2-1.
On the boys’ side, Gulliver Prep defended its 2014 Class 2A title, defeating Jacksonville Bolles 3-1. SLAM Academy, which opened in Downtown Miami in 2013, reached the Class 1A semifinal, falling to Santa Fe Catholic 2-0.