The Miami FC v Austin Bold FC: Previewing The Match

It’s starting to feel a little crowded at the top of the Atlantic Division. And it could get even more crowded by the end of the weekend. 

After a rocky start to the season, Miami FC (9-6-3, 30 pts) has stormed back with a tremendous summer stretch. The Blue and Orange have only lost once in its past nine matches dating back to June 26 with six victories during that span. That includes a thrilling come-from-behind road victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Wednesday night to tighten the race.

A Miami FC victory over Austin Bold FC and a Pittsburgh loss on Saturday night would create a three-way tie (along with the Tampa Bay Rowdies) at the top of the Atlantic Division. But can Miami go into the Lone Star State and return to South Florida with three more points? 

Know Your Enemy: Austin Bold FC

While the Austin Bold’s (6-5-5, 23 pts) future in central Texas is in jeopardy, they are currently focused on fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division. After getting trounced 3-0 by the first-place El Paso Locomotive, the Bold were leapfrogged by San Antonio and Colorado Springs and now sit on the outside of the playoff picture.

Finding the back of the net has been an issue all season for the Bold. Austin has only scored 15 goals all season (they’re currently averaging less than a goal per match), and they’ve been held scoreless in five matches. 

To make matters worse, Austin shipped its leading scorer and former USL Championship MVP Sean Okoli to Orange County SC last week.

However, New York City FC loanee Juan Pablo Torres has come into form as of late. He scored an early goal in Austin’s 2-1 victory over Colorado Springs on Aug. 4 and the lone goal in a 1-0 win against Real Monarchs SLC on July 18.    

Miami FC fans might also get a chance to see a familiar face in Stephano Pinho. The electric Brazilian forward was one of the club’s main weapons during their magical 2017 season. But Pinho hasn’t found the back of the net in 12 appearances for the Bold in 2021.

Keys To A Miami Victory

Miami’s last two victories came after erasing two-goal deficits, which has revealed the team’s resilience and mental toughness. But it might be indicative of a problem: Miami has conceded the first goal to their opponents in each of their last four matches. And while they’ve only lost once in that stretch, that’s not sustainable. 

An early goal against a tough Austin backline could help Miami set the tone early. It would also force a Bold squad that has struggled to score to challenge Miami’s formidable backline, led by defender Paco Craig

Ariel Martinez and Cristiano François have been stellar for Miami FC during their summer surge and they now lead the club’s attack with four goals apiece. Martinez in particular has done a wonderful job creating chances for his teammates, adding four assists to his name. If he doesn’t find the back of the net, perhaps he could help one of his teammates do so. 

While goalkeeper Connor Sparrow has been a solid presence in net for Miami all season, tied for fifth among all Championship keepers with 50 saves, it’s also been a long time since he has recorded a clean sheet (May 14 vs. NYRBII, to be exact). This could be a prime opportunity to give his club a shutout.   

Prediction

Miami has been on a roll lately and has built confidence over the past two months. And going up against a Bold team that has had a tough time putting wins together, Miami should be able to keep piling up points to keep up with its Atlantic Division rivals. 

Miami FC 2 – Austin Bold FC 0

Game Notes

WHO: Miami FC (9-6-3, 30 pts) vs. Austin Bold FC (6-5-5, 23 pts)

WHEN: Saturday, August 14 // 9:00 pm EST

WHERE: Bold Stadium (Austin, TX)

WATCH: ESPN+

DISCIPLINE: 

  • Miami FC – Junior Palacios
  • Austin Bold FC – None

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