Our History: Silverware, Heartbreak & Records

Aug 31, 2018

During the first half of the 2017 season, Miami captured its first-ever trophy and easily dominated its competition. The second half of the season didn't always go as planned, but Miami's talent and mental fortitude shined through constantly. 

Bumpy Beginnings

Coming off of winning the Spring Season title, natural regression was bound to hit eventually. For the Orange and Blue, it began quickly at the start of the Fall Season. The scheduling gods were not in Miami's favor, forcing the Spring Champions into a road date against the New York Cosmos in Match Week 1 of the Fall Season. A match that featured a red card apiece for both teams saw the match turn in the Cosmos' favor after Kwadwo Poku had equalized at 1-1 in the 69th minute. The Cosmos took advantage of Miami losing dependable defender Hunter Freeman and got two late goals, making a statement that the Fall Season would not go as smoothly as the Spring did for the Orange and Blue.

With a midweek Open Cup Quarterfinals matchup looming against FC Cincinnati (which was rescheduled due to weather), Miami had to rally on a short week. A tight match was blown open in the 68th minute when FC Cincinnati striker Djiby Fall knocked in a loose ball in the box. Miami was unable to respond and a memorable Open Cup run was prematurely ended. 

Having to play its third match in seven days and coming off an emotional loss to Cincinnati, the Orange and Blue was handed yet another loss in brutal fashion against North Carolina FC. North Carolina took a 2-0 lead on the road into the final minute of regulation, but Miami was able to muster two goals in the 89th and 92nd minute. North Carolina would take advantage of a set piece four minutes into stoppage time, notching a match-winner through Christian Ibeagha and continuing Miami's spell of bad fortune. 

Back on Track

Following the heart-wrenching loss to North Carolina, Miami looked itself in the mirror and saw the last-place team in the Fall Season standings and a shrinking Combined standings lead that was down to six points. Unwilling to let a poor spell of performances change its season, the Orange and Blue unleashed a string of nine unbeaten matches, including seven wins. Six of those wins came in the form of a shutout, while Miami outscored its opponents by 11 goals during that span.

Throughout the nine-match streak, Jaime Chávez went on an unprecedented tear, scoring nine goals and dishing out four assists. Stéfano Pinho contributed four goals and provided an additional assist, Blake Smith provided three assists and Ariel Martínez notched a goal and two assists. Nearly all of Miami's starters established themselves as mainstays on top 10 lists in terms of counting stats, something that would continue throughout the rest of the season.

A home loss to the San Francisco Deltas broke up the streak, but Miami got right back up and finished its season with three wins and a draw over the final four matches. The hot finish allowed the Orange and Blue to run away with the Fall Season title by five points and expand its final Combined Standings lead to 69 points.

A Bitter End, But Records Set

As the top seed in the NASL Playoffs, Miami was the favorite to win it all. Unfortunately, a tightly contested Semifinal match against the New York Cosmos spelled the end for Miami's 2017 season in penalties. Though Miami didn't win The Championship, the Orange and Blue walked away from 2017 with the Spring and Fall Season trophies, while breaking a multitude of NASL records.

No team had ever captured both the Fall Season and Spring Season titles. Miami's 21 wins set a new NASL record, as did its 61 goals scored. The Orange and Blue's 69 points earned and final plus-33 goal differential set historical marks in the NASL. Those records are likely to never be touched. The season didn't end the way Miami wanted, but the team left a lasting impact in the league and in American soccer throughout a memorable 2017 season.