The Miami FC took a step in the right direction on Sunday night. In Paul Dalglish’s return to the technical area, the tactics from the two previous years returned to the pitch. Miami got on the board early but couldn’t hold off Tampa for the remaining 80+ minutes to earn their first USL victory. Travelling teams often target a draw on the road, and the result might just be the first step in getting Miami firing on all cylinders again thanks in part to Bryant Gammiero.
The starting lineup raised quite a few eyebrows from all who viewed it. Romario Williams got the start for the first time in his Miami career as the lone striker up top and flanked by Prince Saydee and Sebastian Velasquez. Brian James also got his first start for Miami in the USL campaign. The biggest surprise, without question, was Gammiero getting the call to start in net.
Miami got the game underway from the center circle but it was Tampa dominating possession and the chances in the opening five minutes. Tampa earned a free kick in the third minute deep in Miami’s end but the delivery was just out of the reach of Juan Tejada. Miami would gain their footing in the match and fire the opening salvo.
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In the seventh minute, Saydee would get a through-ball played his way into space on the right hand side. With an impressive flick, Saydee was able to find Velasquez unmarked streaking down the dead center of the pitch. Velasquez made no mistake on his entry into the 18-yard box and beat Tampa’s keeper low and to the far right post.
In the thirteenth minute a dangerous collision in the box between Brenton Griffiths and Vincent Bezecourt left both men on the floor. The trainers would come out and tend to both players for a few minutes before both players returned to the action. In the 22nd minute, Marco Franco made a great run down the right hand side but his cross was sniffed out by the Rowdies keeper just before Williams could double Miami’s lead.
In the 27th minute, Gammiero would begin to leave his mark on the match. The Rowdies released Juan Tejada into a one-on-one with Gammiero, who came charging off his line to stuff the Rowdies striker for the save.
Dalglish made an early substitution in the 41st minute replacing Griffiths with Hassan Ndam. Griffiths had been booked earlier in the half and was still showing some uneasiness after his collision with Bezecourt. Miami would enjoy much of the possession in the remaining moments of the half but neither club had a good look at goal.
Tampa would make two changes coming out of the break with Lucky Mkosana and Yann Ekra replacing Kevin Mendoza and Jordan Doherty. Miami would only have a steady stream of possession for the opening minutes of the half before Tampa would gain a strong hold on the game.
In the 57th minute, Tampa’s Malik Johnson would make multiple runs in on Miami’s penalty box. Miami would show up defensively and clear both advances without any hiccups. Two minutes later the Rowdies would net their equalizer.
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The Rowdies continues to enjoy a strong spell of possession as they worked the ball toward’s the right flank. Johnson would receive a pass from Tejada before taking a few steps down the flank and firing in yet another cross. This time, the ball landed on the head of Mkosana and floated just over a diving Gammiero.
In the 66th minute, Gammiero stuffed Johnson on a low strike with yet another marvelous save from the former Florida Soccer Soldier. Not long after, Miami would have a great opportunity for the go-ahead on the counter. Franco would find himself with space down the right side. Unfortunately, his cross was hit with too much pace and sailed by four Miami players in and around the box.
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Gammiero would come up huge again to save Miami’s bacon in stoppage time. Two back to back saves by Gammiero against Mkosana in the 92nd and 93rd minute secured a road point in Tampa for the boys in blue.
The Road Ahead
The Miami FC return to action on Wednesday night at Riccardo Silva Stadium against Atlanta United 2. It is imperative for Miami to have another strong performance on the defensive end to secure a victory. While Miami has only netted one goal in their contests against Tampa, Miami did manage to score three against Atlanta in their return to action just two weeks ago. All eyes will be on the goalkeeper position to see who Dalglish gives the nod to on Wednesday night.