Don’t look now, but Miami FC is the hottest team in the entire USL Championship. After defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies in front of a home crowd for the first time since joining the Championship, Miami heads north for another important divisional match against Hartford Athletic.
The wait is finally over. For the first time since joining the USL Championship, Miami FC will be playing in front of a home crowd at Riccardo Silva Stadium. And the timing couldn’t be any better.
The Miami FC were on a mission as they arrived in Leesburg, Virginia. Miami is an awkward stage of their 2021 USL Championship season having played more games than the other Atlantic Division contenders. Miami FC came into the match 5-2-5 having amassed 17 points in their first 12 matches. With Head Coach Paul Dalglish still away from the sidelines, Miami turned to assistant coach Andy Thomson again to run the squad.
A strong argument can be made that Miami’s upset victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday was the club’s biggest win since joining the USL Championship.
If Miami (5-5-2, 17 pts) ends up making the playoffs, this might be the match the club looks back on as a turning point. Defender Callum Chapman-Page’s header in the 78th minute will be a moment fans remember for a long time, giving Miami its first win over the Rowdies since 2017 in the U.S. Open Cup.
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.
A busy week for Miami FC kicks off Wednesday with an important home match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Coming off a somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw on the road against the New York Red Bulls II, Miami will look to try to steal three points against the first-place Rowdies. That’s a tall order against the defending Eastern Conference champions. The Rowdies enter Wednesday night’s match with more points (24) than any other club in the USL Championship.
It had to feel good in the Miami FC locker room last Saturday after the club defeated Charlotte. It was the their first win in almost a month, snapping a two-game losing skid in the process. Plus, it gave the club some much-needed momentum heading into a big month for the Orange and Blue.
In just a few weeks, Miami FC will welcome fans back in the stands for the first time this season at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Everyone has July 17’s match against Tampa Bay circled on their calendars. But the team has three matches before then, starting with Friday’s showdown with the New York Red Bulls II. Can Miami put together a win streak and build some excitement heading into July 17?
Know Your Enemy: New York Red Bulls II
The New York Red Bulls II (2-6-2, 8 pts) are coming into Friday’s match on a cold spell. They’ve lost four of their past five matches, including a 7-0 shellacking at the hands of Hartford Athletic on June 5.
In their lone meeting so far this season, Miami edged out the “Baby Bulls” in a 1-0 victory on May 14 at MSU Soccer Park. Speedy Williams scored the lone goal for Miami in the 15th minute of the match and goalkeeper Connor Sparrow kept New York off the score sheet.
Miami’s defense will need to keep an eye on forward Jeremy Rafanello. The 21-year-old scored twice and tallied an assist in New York’s 3-1 win over Charlotte on June 16. Defender Mandela Egbo is also a scoring threat–he leads Red Bulls II with three goals this season.
Keys To A Miami Victory
We know we sound like a broken record at this point, but Miami FC’s offense desperately needs a spark. The club is averaging 1.2 goals per game this season and hasn’t scored more than two goals in a match all season.
Playing against NYRBII might be the remedy to that problem. New York has conceded the second most goals (22) in the USL Championship so far this season. Even if you take away the seven goals scored by Hartford, they’re still in the Top 10 in that category.
Amazingly, Miami FC doesn’t have a single multi-goal scorer through 10 games this season (10 players have tallied a goal apiece). This could be a golden opportunity for any one of Miami’s attackers to break through with a big game. Will it be a forward like Billy Forbes or Ariel Martinez? Or maybe the scoring will come from the midfield from someone like Speedy Williams?
And with a home match against Tampa on Wednesday, July 7, Miami needs to be careful not to look past this contest.
This is a must-win match for Miami FC. The Atlantic Division’s playoff race is crowded, and Miami has already fallen behind some clubs with a handful of games in hand. In order to keep pace with the rest of the competition, Miami needs to earn three points against the teams below them in the standings. That includes NYRBII.
We keep waiting for Miami’s offense to shine through, and I think this could be the week it finally happens. After a big win against Charlotte and getting to face a New York team that tends to give up lots of goals, I’m willing to bet that this will
Miami FC 3 – NYRBII 1
WHO: Miami FC (4-5-1, 13 pts) vs. New York Red Bulls II (2-6-2, 8 pts)
WHEN: Friday, July 2 // 7:00 pm EST
WHERE: MSU Park (Montclair, NJ)
- Miami FC – None
- NYRBII – None
Shuffling some players around following last week’s defeat to Charleston Battery, Miami looked to Francois and Walker to provide a burst down the wings. Captain Speedy Williams replaced Ariel Martinez in the number 10 role and Ballard was given a start at right back. Miami FC got off to a slow start with the first chance coming for Birmingham Legion’s Serbena Lapa who had his shot sail harmlessly over the crossbar. After a sluggish start Miami began to enjoy some possession in midfield giving Speedy the time he needed to start picking out runs into the box.
The Miami FC enter Friday’s contest versus a struggling Charleston side with a wide variety of quality in their performances. Miami is 1-1-1 in their last three matches which includes a hard fought draw against Pittsburgh after an epic second half collapse to Rio Grande Valley. Currently sitting fifth in the Atlantic Division, the boys in blue and orange have some work to do if they wish to make up ground on division leaders Tampa Bay.
It’s hard to imagine the first half of Miami FC’s match against Rio Grande Valley FC last weekend going any better. Unfortunately, it’s also hard to imagine the second half going much worse.