Coming into the match the Tampa Bay Rowdies (8-0-2) were the heavy favorites vs Miami FC (4-2-5). Up until this point Miami had only recorded one win against the Rowdies; a hard fought 2-0 in their memorable 2017 U.S Open Cup run. Miami desperately needed a win to stay in contention for a playoff spot and achieved that with style and confidence against one of the toughest opponents in the league.
Miami hit the ground running, playing much more organized than in previous encounters. The first chance of the game would come when Paco Craig sent a long pass towards Adonijah Reid who bested Guenzatti but had his shot smacked wide by Tampas keeper. Guenzatti would redeem himself just 5’ later with a clever backheel pass to Lachowecki whose shot would be just barely saved by a fully stretched Connor Sparrow. It would be more back and forth until the 20’ when Miami was awarded a corner kick. Nothing would come from the kick directly but Miami maintained possession and mounted another attack. Da Silva whipped the ball across the goal to an unmarked Reid who tapped it in for the orange and blue. The rest of the half was highly contested with both teams getting clear opportunities.
Tampa Bay would equalize early in the second half, but not without some controversy. After a dangerous cross was sent in by Ariel Martinez there was a quite obvious and intentional back pass that was not called. The Rowdies would get their equalizer minutes later after getting fouled in the final third. Hilton sent in a beautiful cross that was headed in by Scarlett. Although they had just conceded, Miami managed to stay organized and was able to absorb some of the pressure and mount some attacks of their own. Fresh legs would come on for both sides as Francois replaced Reid, and Tampa made a triple sub with Ekra, Fernandes and Adebayo-Smith coming on for Steinberger, Lachowecki and Harris. Following a round of substitutions, as Forbes and Anglin replaced Bah and Martinez the deadlock would be broken just seconds later. Francois whipped in a cross which was headed in by Chapman-Paige giving Miami the lead once again. It was a hard fought rest of the half with the Rowdies getting several opportunities to tie it up in the closing moments of the game but the orange and blue managed to hold on for their first ever league victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Miami FC started the game 5th in the Atlantic, but with their win over the Rowdies and Charlotte’s loss at the hands of the New York Red Bulls, they see themselves leaping into 3rd place. They are just 2 points ahead of Charlotte and just 1 point ahead of Hartford as the battle for a playoff spot continues. Miami FC’s next match is an away fixture against Loudoun United on July 11th at 5:30pm in Segra Field.