RECAP: The Miami FC Opens U.S. Open Cup with Win Over South Florida Surf

May 17, 2017

MIAMI (May 17, 2017) - The Miami FC opened their U.S. Open Cup campaign with a thrilling 3-2 win over the South Florida Surf at Cobb Stadium at the University of Miami. 

Miami would fall behind early, being caught off guard by a Darwin Espinal strike. The former Tampa Bay Rowdies player collected the ball on the left side of the box and unleashed a curled shot that snuck past a fully outstretched Daniel Vega, hit the post, and went in.

But Miami would settle down, and a pair of halftime subs would end up paying huge dividends. Coach Alessandro Nesta brought in Dylan Mares and Richie Ryan to provide a spark in midfield, and his magic touch with substitutes once again came to fruition.

“I saw something to fix and you can't always wait,” said Nesta. “I decided to change two players, because in that moment I realized it was necessary in order to win the game.”

Just three minutes into the second half, a Blake Smith cross flew by the Surf defense and goalie, finding Kwadwo Poku at the far post. A wide-open Poku headed the ball into the goal with ease, tying the game at 1-1 in the 48th minute. 

Blake Smith dominated the left side of the field from his left back position all game. He made countless runs from midfield and was a danger while crossing throughout the entire match.

Twelve minutes after Poku’s goal, he started up another attack from deep in Surf territory. He thread a ball to Mares, who streaked down the right side of the box and swung the ball back to the center of the box. The ball deflected off Surf defender Andrew Booth and ricocheted into the goal to give Miami a 2-1 lead. 

The Surf would answer back in the 74th minute, with Jeff Michaud getting around on an Espinal over-the-top through ball and pushing the ball through Vega’s legs and into the goal. 

The tie wouldn’t last long, as the Orange and Blue responded flawlessly, going ahead 3-2 in the 79th minute. Smith once again carried the ball and charged up the left side of the field, uncorked a piercing cross, and found forward Jaime Chávez at the back post for a headed goal. The play was a carbon copy of Miami’s first goal of the match.

Miami would see the match out, coming close on several offensive attacks, while the defense thwarted any semblance of a late equalizer that the Surf attempted. The final whistle blew and Miami has now advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. 

The Miami FC will continue its U.S. Open Cup campaign against the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL on Wednesday, May 31 at Riccardo Silva Stadium at FIU.

Quick Hits

Starting XI
GK: Vega
DEF: Smith, Trafford, Freeman, Borrajo
MID: Steele (45’ - Mares), Poku, Michel (45’ - Ryan), Lahoud
FWD: Chávez, Martínez (64’ - Rennella)

Goals
20’ - Espinal (SFS)
48’ - Poku (MIA)
60’ - Booth | Own Goal (MIA)
74’ - Michaud (SFS)
79’ - Chávez (MIA)

Bookings
30’ - Michaud (SFS) | Yellow
89’ - O’Keefe (SFS) | Yellow
90’+4’ - Gonzalez (SFS) | Yellow
90’+4’ - Ruiz (SFS) - Yellow

Stats
Possession: 75.8%
Shots: 20
Passes: 435
Pass Accuracy: 89.4%
Clearances: 3
Tackles: 4