Month: September 2020

Gutsy FC Hold Independence

After an improved performance against Charleston, Miami FC went one better in Charlotte. A creditable defensive display saw the Orange and Blue record their first clean sheet of the season in a 0-0 draw with the Independence.

While the scoreboard might have read 0-0 at the end of the game there was no shortage of action on the pitch. It was a classic case of the entertaining scoreless tie.

A fit-again Prince Saydee got the start on the left wing and Paul Dalglish switched back to a back four in defense. Hassan Ndam partnered by Lance Rozeboom in the middle with Löbe and Sam outside them.

Independence were looking for a win to take them to the top of Group G and made a positive start. Miami did a good job of restricting them to long range efforts and keeper Mark Pais made a confident start to the game with a couple of impressive saves early on.

Miami were playing on the counter and Prince was the main outlet. One silky run saw the Liberian shoot wide. Just after the 30 minute mark he latched on to a long Harrison Heath pass, sprinted forward and played a perfect ball to Granitto that the Miami #8 fired a fraction over.

Pais was beaten by the Charlotte attack both sides of half time but fortunately for FC the two goals were flagged for offside. The second half was dominated by the home side but Miami held firm. Former Florida Soccer Soldier Valentin Sabella came closest to breaking the deadlock, unleashing an incredible strike on Pais’s goal that thwacked against the post.

Backs to the wall, Miami did an awesome job of defending as a team. It was an organized and committed effort and when the final whistle came no one could deny that they deserved a point from the game. Confidence is boosted and the team return to Miami to play their three remaining games at home in Riccardo Silva Stadium.

Next up are Florida rivals Tampa Bay Rowdies. Kick off is 7:30pm on Saturday 26th September. Watch live on ESPN+.

Miami FC Fire Blank Against Battery

Franco-Battery

Miami FC crashed to a second consecutive defeat on Sunday evening. A clinical Charleston Battery side piled more misery on the Orange and Blue in a 2-0 win for the home side.

In their previous five games, Battery’s stingy defense had conceded just two goals. A defensive record that puts Miami’s to shame. FC did a good job early on in the game. Neither side had much of a sniff of a goal but Miami looked comfortable. It was a lapse of concentration that led to Charleston’s first. Busy forward Zeiko Lewis found a huge gap between Brenton Griffiths and Hassan Ndam. Picked out perfectly by Leland Archer he had plenty to do with the finish and obliged with a classy chip past Mark Pais.

Miami almost fired in an instant response. Vincent Bezecourt’s driven shot unluckily hitting a team mate, his header from the rebound just went wide. Charleston should have had a second midway through the half. Lewis again finding space before sending a great ball into the six yard box that striker Arthur Bosua somehow failed to convert.

It was 2-0 just before the 45 minutes were up. A loose pass into the left channel by the Battery was dealt with far too casually. Under pressure Griffiths sent a poor backpass to Pais. The keeper had no chance. Nicque Daley snuck in to collect his third goal of the season. Again Miami might have pulled one back straight away. Hassan Ndam heading wide from a corner in injury time.

A scrappy second half served up few highlights save for the welcome return of tricky winger Prince Saydee from injury and an acrobatic stop by Pais to prevent a third for Battery. Charleston’s choice to safeguard their 2-0 win with pragmatic rather than pretty soccer might have made for a drab second half, but it’s a huge part of why they clinched the playoffs and still have first-placed Tampa Bay Rowdies nervously looking over their shoulders.

Two losses in a row. Two games without scoring. Six goals conceded in 180 minutes of soccer. Miami FC don’t have long to dwell on it though. Next up is Charlotte Independence, again on the road, on Wednesday. Kick off 7pm, watch on ESPN+.

Lackluster FC Punished By The Legion

In a forgettable night at Riccardo Silva Stadium, Miami FC suffered a crushing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Birmingham Legion.

The match was a completely different proposition to the 2-1 victory over Atlanta at the weekend. Legion are top of Group G and the 4th best team in the combined Eastern Conference standings. In the first ten minutes of the game you could see they were a well-prepared side who like to play the ball.

Nevertheless Miami looked comfortable after absorbing a little early pressure. They grew into the game up to the hydration break and it looked like a fascinating hour of soccer was in front of us. It was, but for all the wrong reasons.

FC shipped three goals in ten minutes before half time. If you conceded one of these goals in a game you wouldn’t be happy. All were preventable and highlight the current weaknesses in Miami FC’s game. The fourth goal after half time was comical, but if you play soccer long enough your team will concede a goal like that. The damage had already been done and it’s pointless to bring up individual errors. A 4-0 loss equals Miami FC’s worst ever performance on the pitch. The previous four goal hammering had been at the hands of the Cosmos in the 2016 NASL fall season. This is a performance that the squad have to accept responsibility for as a whole. A point made by Paul Dalglish himself in his post game interview.

The statistics paint a grim picture. Miami FC controlled 69% of possession, completed 374 of 441 attempted passes to the opponents 151 from 194 but managed just two shots on target compared to Legion’s seven. There is much work to do to fix Miami’s tepid attack and calamitous defense. But these stats prove there is at least the bedrock of technique to build upon. It is worth noting that the players had clearly been asked to deliver a response in the half time team talk and they did do that. The second half performance showed much more commitment than the first.

Five games remain for Miami FC in 2020. With this mauling behind them all anyone can ask for is for the team to pick themselves up, compete in every minute of the upcoming encounters and try to sign off a difficult 2020 with a few good performances and hopefully a win or two. It will be a long winter but 2020 has been a valuable lesson. It can only be hoped it has been learned when 2021 comes around.

Miami FC will travel to Charleston Battery next. Kick off 6pm, Sunday 20th live on ESPN+.

Inter Miami CF can’t build momentum, drop game to Orlando City SC 2-1

Inter Miami CF Blaise Matuidi

For a moment against Orlando City SC, it appeared Inter Miami CF might be able to find its footing and get back into the match. Might be able to forge the first winning streak in team history. But that moment was fleeting, and a Mauricio Pereyra goal off the post put the Purple and Gold up for good, 2-1. 

Orlando struck first, applying pressure and dominating much of the first half, including a Nani free kick striking off the crossbar. In the 34th minute, Miami defender Andres Reyes unluckily put the ball in his own net off a curling set piece. 

Miami drastically improved in the second half, as the infusions of Dylan Nealis and Brek Shea sparked several quality chances early on. 

Finally, in the 65th minute, it was former Orlando man Shea who took a service from Rodolfo Pizarro and headed the ball in for the equalizer. It was a deserved reward for Miami, but the joy wouldn’t last long.

In what has become an unfortunate trend, a Miami goal is followed by a Miami concession. This time, the center of the Inter defense vacated a huge hole at the top of the 18-yard box. It was Pereyra taking a clever pass from Chris Mueller and slotting it past the diving Luis Robles.

Just a few minutes after that, a wild sequence ensued. A low cross nearly found the foot of Miami forward Julian Carranza, and after video review, it was determined that not only was Carranza fouled by Orlando’s Rodrigo Schlegel, but it was the defender’s second yellow card of the match. Before Inter could even line up for the penalty kick, a second review showed Carranza offside as the ball was played in, nullifying the foul and the yellow card. Schlegel was subsequently allowed back into the match and Inter’s wait for its first penalty kick of the season continued. 

In the third match-up between these clubs, and the last presently on the schedule, it’s advantage Orlando (2-1). Miami next faces Atlanta United in Georgia on Saturday at 7 p.m. The latest round of MLS schedule updates has Inter playing home to New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, September 23 and at Philadelphia Union on Sunday the 27th. 

The Miami FC records first USL road victory, beats ATL UTD 2

The Miami FC

The Miami FC finally recorded an away win in the USL Championship with a 2-1 victory over ATL UTD 2, thanks to a second-half strike by Miguel Gonzalez.

The main conductor of the attacking play in the draw vs Charleston Battery, Sebastian Velasquez, didn’t make the trip. Possibly Paul Dalglish did not want to risk him against Atlanta’s no-nonsense tackling. Lloyd Sam dropped to the bench. In came Gonzalez and Griffiths. Again a back three was deployed with Hassan Ndam as sweeper.

Atlanta set out to disrupt Miami’s possession and gave no quarter in the 50/50s. Jalen Markey was bundled over more than once but despite the persistent fouling from the home side, the ref kept his cards in his pocket.

Miami stood up to the physical challenge from the hosts and took the lead when Romario Williams tapped in a rebound after Atlanta keeper Ben Lundgaard spilled a Tomas Granitto free kick. Williams looked to be in the mood for a goal after failing to find the net since the 2-1 over Charlotte last month. His movement was good, he was taking players on with confidence. A great night for the number 9.

In a familiar story for FC fans, Atlanta equalized minutes later. The Miami defense failed to clear a loose ball in the area, Ajani Fortune firing home a great effort. Miami have been much improved of late, especially at the back, but this was an echo of past collapses. Thankfully they steadied themselves and made it to half time tied up 1-1.

Sometimes you just feel a game is going the way of one of the teams. Last night it was our turn and Miami wouldn’t be denied three vital points. Miguel Gonzalez was the hero of the hour with a crisp finish from the edge of the area after a corner early in the second half. It’s two goals in two games for Miguel now. His confident, first-time finish for the goal sums up Miami FC’s renaissance. A bit of belief and swagger is coming back.

ATLUTD2 had a couple of chances to get level and even hit the crossbar, however Miami’s defense held firm. Keeper Mark Pais turned in a commanding performance. Mark controls his area so well and came bravely out of his goal to snuff out an Atlanta chance on the hour mark. Centerback Hassan Ndam was impressive too, as the Cameroonian provided a key block late in the game to ensure an important victory for the Orange and Blue.

Although unlikely, the win means Miami still have a mathematical chance to catch second place in Group H, Charleston Battery. Next up is the “Magic City Derby,” as the Birmingham Legion will come to Riccardo Silva Stadium on Wednesday at 7:30pm, watch on ESPN+.

Inter Miami CF settles for another scoreless draw — this time against Nashville SC — in Blaise Matuidi’s debut

Rodolfo Pizarro Inter Miami Nashville SC

Four days after a scoreless draw against Atlanta United, Inter Miami CF again went 90 minutes without conceding or scoring a goal.

Nashville SC traveled to Inter Miami CF Stadium and withstood a hearty effort from the Herons, including two must-make opportunities for Julian Carranza and Rodolfo Pizarro.

Miami FC Tie Charleston Battery With A Confident Display Of Soccer

On a perfect evening for soccer at Riccardo Silva Stadium, Miami FC shared a point with the visiting Charleston Battery.

After two losses on the road the Orange and Blue were probably relieved to get back to familiar surroundings. There was some unfamiliarity on the team sheet though. A welcome return for livewire Sebastian Velasquez to the lineup, Lloyd Sam suiting up for the injured Othello Bah and a first start for defender Jalen Markey. Hassan Ndam anchored the defense with Marco Franco and Markey playing in a three man back line, wing backs Sam and Janos Löbe given the freedom to push forward.

FC had the ball in the net early on. Romario Williams finishing off a low cross by Löbe, but Löbe was narrowly offside when released by Vincent Bezecourt. Miami’s football looked confident and was flowing freely meaning Charleston spent the first 45 pinned back in their own half. Velasquez was outstanding, taking on players all over the field. Miami might have felt they should have made their dominance count. It was however a huge positive that a defense that has had a nasty habit of conceding weak early goals this season for once looked rock solid.

It was all the more galling when Battery took the lead just after the half. Stavros Zarokostas crashing a perfect drive home from well outside the area. Pais had no chance.

Charleston battened down the hatches, Miami poured forward. Velasquez had a shot turned onto the post, Williams put the rebound against the bar and at the third time of asking Bezecourt blazed over with an open goal at his mercy. It felt like Miami just weren’t going to score. They had a let off too when AJ Paterson powered a header onto the crossbar not long after.

With five minutes remaining Miami were level. Miguel Gonzalez’s name will go on the scoresheet but credit for the goal lies with Mo Thiaw and Tomi Granitto. Thiaw took possession calmly in the area and fed it back to Granitto. The El Salvadorean unleashed a trademark piledriver which ricocheted off Gonzalez into the back of the net.

An ill-tempered finish to the game marred an otherwise splendid night of entertainment. A draw was probably fair on both sides. Miami might have hoped for more but the creditable overall performance will give the players, staff and fans a little spring in their step over the remainder of the long weekend. Especially as it came against a very good Battery side.

FC travel to ATLUTD2 on Saturday 12th September. Kick off 7:30pm ET on ESPN+.

 

Hard-Working FC Come Up Short In St. Pete

The Rowdies piled more misery onto Miami FC as the Orange and Blue went down 3-0 in St. Petersburg on Wednesday evening.

Interim head coach Paul Dalglish selected a lineup with some changes. This was partly due to injuries, Prince Saydee and Brian James still not fit enough to start, but also Mo Thiaw was given the nod as center forward over Romario Williams. There would be even more work for the medical team. After a tight start to the game full back Othello Bah was forced off after 25 minutes to be replaced by Lloyd Sam.

The game plan couldn’t be faulted. Playing against the leaders of group H, Miami chose to choke up the midfield and press their opponents. With the strength of the options on the bench it felt like getting through the first 45 on equal terms then opening up in the second half would be the best option to get something out of the game.

The resolute defense was punctured just before half time. Lloyd Sam had brought down a Rowdies player on the edge of the area. Leo Fernandes sent in a great direct free kick which was well-saved by Bryan Gammiero, palmed behind for a corner. From that corner Rowdies defender Jordan Scarlett lost his marker and headed in from close range.

Miami came out with a positive approach in the second half and on the hour mark, Williams, Granitto and Velasquez were subbed in. But before that trio could get into the game it was 2-0. Once again it was from a set piece. A free kick sent in to a crowded back post, the ball found it’s way back across the face of goal and was finished off by Tejada.

Vincent Bezecourt was one player who kept fighting all night. He almost reduced the deficit to one after a mazy run right through the Rowdies but he couldn’t find the finish.

A late penalty added a third to the Rowdies score and that was that. In the end it came down to set pieces. Miami FC will attempt to get back to winning ways on Saturday evening, 7pm against Charleston Battery. Watch on ESPN+.