Lee, Matt, and Omar have a very candid conversation with Miami FC’s head coach Nelson Vargas about their return to play in the USL Championship and his Screen Actor’s Guild card. Lee catches up with Sebastian Velasquez about the return to play and the upcoming USL schedule. The guys also discuss Inter Miami’s MLSisBack performance and the future of Miami Freedom Park. Join us, won’t you?
Magic City Soccer will take the last 10 days of 2019 to review the last 10 years of Miami-Dade County soccer. Today in Miami Soccer in Review, we take a look back at 2018. Everything, from ownership to name to stadium location, was changed for Miami Beckham United (later Inter Miami CF).
As we covered yesterday, the fall of 2017 was a dark time for Miami Beckham United. No substantive, positive news had developed in more than a year. But a breakfast meeting and an e-mail brought Jorge Mas, CEO of MasTec, into the fold. By January 2018, the ownership group was appearing at the Adrienne Arsht Center to celebrate.
Changes came thick and fast, as Mas brought his local knowledge to the bid. Out was the Overtown bid. In was Melreese Country Club, which would require a lease with the City of Miami.
Local politics required local support, so the team tried to bring supporters to counter the supporters of the golf club. David Beckham and Mas rallied the troops outside the city commission’s chambers on July 12.
Later that evening, the commission would decide to punt for a week. After a week of further negotiation, a 3-2 vote allowed the residents of the city to vote on whether the commission could negotiate further.
More public support was now needed, and so the public relations campaign began. A Sporting Director (Paul McDonough) was hired, a logo and name were revealed and the team paid for a front-page wrap of the Miami Herald to announce it.
After nearly four months, more than 60 percent of city residents voted to allow the negotiations. Of course, if you don’t know by now, the project that would come to be known as Miami Freedom Park became one more giant hurdle that has yet to be cleared.
Miami FC NPSL-bound
Another entity that struggled with repeated challenges was the North American Soccer League. In 2018, the league, which repeatedly challenged the U.S. Soccer Federation, cancelled its season after failing to regain certification. The Miami FC took measures to keep playing, joining the National Premier Soccer League.
Paul Dalglish, taking over for Alessandro Nesta, had an enormous burden to carry. The club failed to produce another memorable cup run, but did claim the NPSL’s national title thanks to a 3-2 defeat of FC Motown from Morristown, New Jersey.
Miami United cup crazy
Now, why did The Miami FC fail to produce another memorable cup run? Two words: Miami United.
Miami United strung together a cup run nearly as memorable as Miami FC’s in 2017, defeating Miami and Jacksonville Armada (NASL exiles) before hosting Orlando City SC at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah. Orlando City, after failing against Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Miami FC, were loath to lose to a Florida team again. A 3-0 defeat ended the dream for Miami United, but not before lots of attention was paid to the pink and blue.
Miami United FC is South Florida’s fresh hope in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. They face MLS side Orlando City this Wednesday!
International Champions Cup double-dip
Nothing could match the excitement of El Clásico Miami in 2017. However, another double dip of international friendlies came to Hard Rock Stadium. Manchester City saw off Bayern Munich on July 28, and three days later Manchester United upset plenty of Los Blancos fans, defeating Real Madrid 2-1.
2018 also saw the debut of the International Champions Cup Women’s Tournament in Miami. North Carolina Courage claimed the title, besting European giants Olympique Lyonnais; Manchester City claimed third place, beating Paris Saint-Germain.
The FIU men entered 2018 with very high expectations. Two players ( Santiago Patino and Joris Ahlinvi) were named to the preseason MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. Many expected a run similar to what we saw in 2017. However, the team found disappointment, finishing with a 7-10 record and a first-round tournament exit at the hands of Marshall.
If the FIU men were disappointing, the FIU women were shocking. The team fell to 0-17-1, and if not for a brace by Rayquel Berry against Louisiana Tech, it would have been a pointless season.
The Miami Hurricanes, in their first year under Sarah Barnes, weren’t much better. A win over FIU did avenge their 2017 loss, but a 5-9-2 record was not what Barnes was looking for in her debut.
On the girls’ side, Lourdes again claimed a Class 5A title, defeating Oviedo 1-0. Miami Country Day reached the 1A state final, but lost to the juggernaut that is St. John’s Country Day.
On the boys’ side, Class 1A Palmer Trinity claimed another state title, downing Maclay 2-1. Miami Beach nearly edged Plant City for the Class 5A title, but fell in penalty kicks, 3-2.
Join us on New Year’s Day for the final post in Miami Soccer in Review.
One of the biggest holdups of the proposed Miami Freedom Park plan was The First Tee, housed at Miami International Links, Melreese Country Club. After nearly a year of struggle, it appears The First Tee will move to a new home, clearing one of the biggest obstacles for Miami Freedom Park and Inter Miami CF.
Inter Miami CF has been thrown another curveball in the journey for a permanent home. Last week, Miami Beckham United, LLC (the ownership group that controls Inter Miami CF) decidedly beat out FXE Futbol to acquire the negotiating rights to reconstruct Lockhart Stadium in their image. As the focus begins to shift back into Miami-Dade County, Mas was confident during our conversations with him on Monday to secure a deal for the Melreese site. Just seven hours after that conversation, an appeal was filed by Miami-based attorney William Douglas Muir, seeking revision of the City of Miami’s ability to negotiate with Mas on a closed-bid deal for Miami Freedom Park.
It wasn’t easy, but after two efforts in front of the City of Miami Commission and a hard-fought campaign for the support of Miami voters, Inter Miami CF is one step closer to finally claiming a permanent home. Voters approved a change to the city’s charter that would allow the team and the city to negotiate on a no-bid contract to redevelop Melreese County Club into Miami Freedom Park.
The next step for Inter Miami CF is to negotiate with the City of Miami for terms of a lease. Four of the city’s five commissioners must agree on the terms before any development can move forward. Only three commissioners (Joe Carollo, Keon Hardemon and Ken Russell) supported the initiative in July.
The initiative passed easily, clearing the 60-percent threshold in the city. Perhaps even more critically, the initiative met or exceeded expectations in precincts located in the Grapeland Heights community where the project is expected to take place.
It is decision day for City of Miami voters and Miami Freedom Park. Will the city be allowed to negotiate with Inter Miami CF to construct a soccer stadium and mixed-use development on the current site of Melreese Country Club? The city put the question to voters in July, but tonight we’ll find out if the Major League Soccer team moves on to the next step or is sent back to square one. Stay with Magic City Soccer all day for coverage and information about this important vote. For live election results, you can visit Miami-Dade County’s elections page.
This afternoon, Inter Miami CF added to its front office personnel. Jurgen Mainka was announced as the Chief Business Officer for the team.
The City of Miami commission has voted to allow a ballot initiative in support of Miami Freedom Park and Soccer Village to appear on the city’s general election ballot on Nov. 6. The vote was 3-2. Commissioners Keon Hardemon, Joe Carollo and (critically) Ken Russell voted in support. Commissioners Manolo Reyes and Willy Gort voted against.
The day appeared to start where last Thursday’s meeting left off, with commissioners airing their grievances with the deal. The two most prominent voices in the morning were those of Reyes and Carollo.