As the end of summer draws near, Miami FC will try to stay hot as they host the New York Red Bulls II at FIU Stadium on Sunday night.
Miami (10-6-4, 34 pts) has to be feeling great about where they stand heading into the final two months of the season. After a rocky start to the season, the Blue and Orange have earned at least a point in 10 of their past 11 matches dating back to June 26. That impressive stretch has given Miami FC a legitimate shot at competing for the Atlantic Division crown along with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
NYRBII, on the other hand, has headed in the opposite direction. The wheels have come off for the Baby Bulls, who have lost five straight matches heading into Sunday’s match.
Know Your Enemy: New York Red Bulls II
While it is very difficult to find silver linings in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the New York Red Bulls II (3-11-4, 13 pts) have at least stayed competitive. They’ve lost their last three matches by just a single goal. And both meetings between Miami and NYRBII (both played at MSU Park) were closely contested affairs. Miami earned a 1-0 win back on May 14 and a 1-1 draw on a rainy match on July 2.
The Baby Bulls attack is spearheaded by forwards Omar Sowe and Jeremy Rafanello. Sowe, a 20-year-old from Gambia, has a nose for the back of the net and leads the Baby Bulls with six goals so far this season. That includes two goals in a 3-2 loss against the Charlotte Independence on Aug. 10. Rafanello has tacked on four goals and a team-best five assists for NYRBII in 2021.
NYRBII has struggled in defending teams and finding consistency at the goalkeeper position. They have allowed the third most goals in the USL Championship (41) and are the only team that hasn’t recorded a clean sheet this season. Miami FC faced goalkeeper Anthony Marcucci both times the squads faced off this season, but in recent weeks NYRBII has alternated between goalkeepers Luca Lewis and Samuel Joseph in net.
Keys To A Miami FC Victory
Miami has gotten excellent goalkeeper play in recent weeks from both Connor Sparrow and Brian Sylvestre. With Sparrow forced to sit out last Sunday’s match due to a red card, Sylvestre recorded a shutout in Miami’s huge 2-0 victory over Hartford, recording three saves in the process. Head Coach Paul Dalglish will now have an interesting decision to make on who starts in net.
Forward Billy Forbes, meanwhile, has been a spark plug off the bench for Miami FC. His two goals against Hartford goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell earned him a spot on the Championship’s Team of the Week and he now leads Miami FC with five goals this season. Can he stay hot against NYRBII? And getting forward Cristiano François back after serving a red card suspension should help bolster Miami’s attack again.
Miami signed El Salvador international Joshua Perez this week to add some depth at the forward position. He might make his debut with the club Sunday before reporting for FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying next week.
Miami FC and New York Red Bulls II are two teams heading in completely different directions this season. While the Baby Bulls played tough against Miami earlier this season, Miami has only gotten stronger since the two teams last met in early July. Not to mention Miami has turned FIU Stadium into a fortress this season. I simply can’t see NYRBII coming in and changing that.
The Miami FC 3 – NYRB 1
WHO: The Miami FC (10-6-4, 34 points) vs. New York Red Bulls II (3-11-4, 13 pts)
WHEN: Sunday, August 29 || 6:30 pm EST
WHERE: FIU Stadium (Miami, FL)
- Miami FC – None
- NYRBII – Accumulation Warning: Joey Zalinsky, Daniel Edelman