Our History: New League, New Trophies

Sep 7, 2018

Following a highly successful 2017 season that featured two trophies and an unprecedented U.S. Open Cup run, Miami FC had to find a new league to play in for the 2018 season, due to the NASL taking a hiatus. The Orange and Blue established The Miami FC 2 and joined the NPSL, which features 96 teams. Playing in the Sunshine Conference, Miami would face a bevy of local teams and its NASL rival, Jacksonville Armada FC.

An Ominous Start

The Orange and Blue's regular season began with an away-home set against Miami United FC, in what was deemed the Magic City Clásico. In the season opener at Milander Park, Miami FC 2 went down by a goal to its intracity rival, but a late, dramatic Jaime Chávez winner with mere seconds left in the match earned Miami a point on the road.

The following week, the Orange and Blue hosted Miami United at Bobcat Field at St. Thomas University. In a match that featured fireworks on the field, two players from each team were sent off. An early Jeff Michaud goal put Miami in control nine minutes into the match, but Elusma Pierre's header in the third minute of stoppage time in the first half gave Miami United a much-needed equalizer. A feisty second half featured more bickering than playing, and the match ended 1-1.

For the third straight match, Miami FC 2 battled to a 1-1 draw. Hosting Jacksonville Armada FC, the Orange and Blue surrendered a goal to its former NASL comrades midway into the first half, when Wesley Charpie buried a close-range effort. Miami's equalizer came at the hour mark after Chávez set up Ariel Martínez to beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation.

With three-consecutive 1-1 draws, Miami needed to find its footing after the quarter mark of the season.

A Brief Break, A Deluge of Goals

Miami took a one-month break from NPSL action to participate in three U.S. Open Cup matches.

Returning to its regular season on May 26, Miami traveled north to take on Palm Beach United. In search for its first victory, the Orange and Blue encountered a tough, stubborn defense, but a penalty by Palm Beach's goalkeeper committed on Michaud gave Miami a chance to go ahead in the 51st minute. Don Smart stepped up to take the penalty and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Miami escaped with a 1-0 road win.

Over its next two matches, Miami tallied a whopping 12 goals, churning out 7-0 and 5-0 victories against Storm FC and Boca Raton FC, respectively. Chávez scored four goals in the two matches, while Smart and Dylan Mares earned braces. 

A Road Loss, A Start of Something Special

Flying high off of two lopsided victories, Miami was dealt a tough hand having to travel to Jacksonville to take on the stout Armada defense. A Derek Gebhard goal in the ninth minute allowed Jacksonville to play its preferred style of defending and counter-attacking, and Miami couldn't find a goal throughout the 90 minutes.

Invigorated by its first loss to Jacksonville since 2016, Miami went on a tear to end the regular season. In its final five matches, the Orange and Blue won every match, outscoring its opponents 14-1. The hot streak allowed for Miami to finish atop the Sunshine Conference, earning the Orange and Blue a first-round bye in the Conference Playoffs. 

Playoff Mode Activated

Miami FC 2 used its five-match winning streak to end the regular season as a springboard for the playoffs, where it hosted nearly every single match except for one. In its first-ever NPSL playoff match, Miami welcomed Jacksonville in the Sunshine Conference Championship and comfortably disposed of their rivals 3-1, with help from two goals by Kris Tyrpak.

A hard-fought match in the South Region Semifinal against Atlanta Silverbacks FC needed an 80th-minute goal from Tyrpak, with Miami escaping with a narrow 2-1 victory to reach the final, where it would take on the Little Rock Rangers.

Following the close match against Atlanta, Miami's gears really started turning. The Orange and Blue disposed of Little Rock 3-0 in the South Region Final and followed that up with another 3-0 victory against Duluth FC in the National Semifinal, setting up a Miami FC 2-FC Motown National Final. Both teams had been the best two squads in the entire NPSL for the duration of the year, so it only made sense that they were the last two standing. In the end, Miami's depth and quality shined through, as Miami used a Jonny Steele rocket, a clever Dylan Mares free kick and an insurance Jeff Michaud goal to put Motown away 3-1 and walk away with the trophy. 

Miami ended up winning its final 10 matches of the season, outscoring its opponents 28-4 over the span and brought home three trophies. While a slow start raised some concerns, the Orange and Blue came together as a team and showed off why they are the most decorated club in Miami.