Lee Ifans
Lee Ifans

Lee Ifans is a former amateur player and expert in the game of football. Originally from Wales, fate has brought Lee to the Magic City. You can contact Lee at ifans.mcs@gmail.com.

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+.

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+.

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+.

Battery Power Too Much For Miami

pic courtesy: live5news.com

Miami FC finished a punishing run of four games in 11 days with a 3-1 loss on the road to Charleston Battery on Wednesday evening. With both sides having a busy August the game was predictably cautious in the opening exchanges. FC head coach Paul Dalglish had already been forced to shuffle his pack after injuries to Brian James and Sebastian Velasquez. So it was hugely disappointing when they lost Prince Saydee with barely ten minutes gone.

Goalkeeper Bryan Gammiero had just plucked a Battery corner out of the South Carolinian sky and hurled it into the path of Prince. Great distribution. But with a huge gap to run into the Miami FC winger pulled up clutching his hamstring. Prince couldn’t continue and Dalglish was forced into an early substitution, sending on Janos Löbe as a replacement.

Miami had started well but the break in play seemed to work in favor of the home team. Charleston grew into the game from that point, taking the lead through Logan Gdula who lashed a rocket home off the underside of the bar that gave Gammiero no chance. It was 2-0 not long after when Romario Piggott capitalized on a poor clearance by the FC defense and slotted home. You have to say the second goal was preventable and it fits into a worryingly familiar pattern of goals conceded by Miami FC which would be filed under ‘sloppy defending’.

Nevertheless this team is prepared to fight for a comeback and if Paul Dalglish gave them a few stern words at half time it seemed to do the trick. Romario Williams got a piledriver on target after a couple of minutes but it was well saved by Joe Kuzminsky in the Charleston goal. A couple of feet either side and it would have been in.

If Miami FC came out flying then it seemed The Battery were still in the dressing room and the Orange and Blue took advantage. Löbe found space down the left but cleverly squared the ball early instead of going for the line. Miguel Gonzalez got on the end of it, out-muscled a defender and finished well beyond the diving Kuzminsky.

It looked like the match might turn back in Miami’s favor. The next goal would be vital. But it was Charleston who scored it. Dante Marini just getting the ball past a wrong-footed Gammiero after Paterson had picked out target man Arthur Bosua in the box. The two goal lead was restored.

Miami went looking for another goal of their own and Charleston were happy to sit back and let them have possession. The triangle on the left of Bah, Löbe and Bezecourt, who again was the most dangerous creative outlet all game, looked to be the most likely avenue to a chance. Lloyd Sam came on and couldn’t squeeze a second home from a tight angle. Another substitute Harrison Heath sent a low shot wide. Hassan Ndam had a great chance from a corner that he couldn’t get on target.

3-1 at the end. Miami FC have seven days rest before traveling to Tampa again for another pop at the Rowdies. 7:30pm, September 2nd on ESPN+.

Romario To The Rescue At Riccardo Silva Stadium to salvage The Miami FC draw

The Miami FC

 

Not all heroes wear capes but some of them do score goals and when you have a goalscoring superstar hero of a number 9 called Romario in your team like The Miami FC does, you always have a chance.

The home side didn’t have much time to rest up after Sunday’s tie against the Rowdies in St. Petersburg. They measured the early pace, setting out to control the opening exchanges with their trademark game of keeping possession and patiently working the spaces to open up chances. ATLUTD2 did a good job to keep their shape in response and frustrated the Orange and Blue. They ended up taking the hosts by surprise, upping the tempo in a flash and taking the lead against the run of play. Jack Gurr rifled the ball home on a counter-attack having been given the freedom of the Miami FC half.

Knockout Performance By Miami United

Nicolas Micoli celebrates his goal. Pic courtesy Miami United instagram.

Miami United cruised into the 2020 US Open Cup with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Delray Beach’s Hurricane FC in the Open Cup 3rd qualifying round.

The tone for the evening was set early on when United broke the deadlock with the game’s first meaningful effort on goal. A great free kick looped in from deep in the Hurricane half by Juan Fuenmayor found Bautista Dominguez in the penalty area. Dominguez beat Hurricane keeper Bruno to the ball and powered a header into the net.

Hurricane could have equalized with a long range effort by Jeremy Garcia Villatoro that caught Soto in the Miami United goal off-guard. Fortunately the crossbar came to his rescue. After that it was one way traffic and United piled on three more goals with Darryl Gordon, Nicolas Micoli and William Stamatis all getting on the scoresheet. United’s goals all coming from different scorers really highlights the quality throughout head coach Ferdinando De Matthaeis’s team.

The difference between the two teams came down to the experience on the Miami United side. Captain Ezequiel Tejera gave a masterclass in midfield, effortlessly controlling the tempo of the game. Winning the ball when needed and moving the ball round wonderfully in possession. Although with a 4-0 win it might be easier to look at the attacking players, it was defender Juan Fuenmayor who turned in a man of the match performance. In addition to his assist for the first goal and helping his side to a clean sheet he also cleared a Hurricane effort of the line towards the end of the first half.

Vice City 1896 supporting Miami United. Pic courtesy Vice City 1896 instagram.

The second 45 didn’t live up to the exciting first stanza. Hurricane were unable to create meaningful chances. They almost got one back through a goalmouth scramble but #9 Elizor was unable to force the ball into the net. United went more defensive and were happy to manage the game to it’s conclusion. As the half wore on and Hurricane pressed forward they were unable to solve Bruno for a fifth goal on the break. The Hurricane keeper denying United on a few key occasions. The game ended 4-0 with Miami United able to soak up the noisy support from the sidelines, led by local supporter’s group Vice City 1896, and bask in the glory of a return to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The first round of the 2020 tournament is scheduled for March next year.

Ever Ready?

Another tease on squad building from IMCF HQ. A late night meeting to pitch to another player, the kind of effort which can probably only mean it’s another potential Designated Player target. But does this contain a clue big enough to connect the dots back to the possible target?

I am an empanada enthusiast and who isn’t? And who doesn’t love Graziano’s? Product placement or a hint to the player’s nationality? Let’s assume the latter. An Argentine DP for IMCF makes a massive amount of sense. Anyone who gets out to games in Miami knows that Argentineans show up for soccer and they love being in a stadium watching the game live. South Florida may not have the big numbers of Argentineans as it does Cubans, Colombians or Venezuelans but you can’t go to a game without seeing a River or Boca jersey or maybe someone chilling with their maté. A lot of names have been touted as striking options but if you are IMCF you would absolutely be looking at filling your #10 jersey with a DP. The #10 jersey is always a great thing to see on the back of an Argentine player. Maradona… Messi…