The Miami FC Midseason Recap

May 21, 2019

The Miami FC is off to a stellar start in its second NPSL season and the defense of its Sunshine Conference, South Region and National Championship trophies. After winning all three trophies in league competition last season, the Orange and Blue appear to once again be a major contender in the NPSL. 

Despite having amassed 12 points through just five matches thus far and a staggering +23 goal differential, Naples United FC’s unblemished record through two matches in the 2019 season has The Miami FC currently sitting in the second position in the Sunshine Conference table.  The first half featured a new roster with emerging stars and returning veterans, dominating victories and heartbreaking defeats.  As the club sits at the midway point of its 2019 NPSL season, we take a look back at a thrilling first half and preview the upcoming second half slate.

RELOADING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP ENCORE

The Miami FC offseason was certainly eventful as Head Coach Paul Dalglish worked feverishly to assemble his 2019 roster and technical staff. Star goalkeeper and captain Daniel Vega, who had started all but one of Miami FC’s matches in its three-year history, departed for the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS, and the club also lost the services of all-time leading goal scorer Jaime Chavez. The dependable backline of Mason Trafford and Rhett Bernstein would also not be returning, along with key forwards Don Smart and Kris Tyrpak. Assistant Coach Daryl Shore left to take the head coaching position at USL’s Forward Madison FC, and suddenly there were several integral pieces to replace from the championship roster. 

Dalglish began by securing the services of key returning stars in Ariel Martínez, Dylan Mares and Darío Suárez. Shawn Chin, Lionel Brown and Brian James all returned to the club, providing significant experience and championship pedigree in crucial areas. Dalglish addressed the backline by signing veteran goalkeeper Mark Pais and talented defenders Marco Franco, Brenton Griffiths, Jalen Markey and John Neeskens. Adding depth to the midfield, the club acquired local star Tomás Granitto and Robert Baggio Kcira, who returned to Miami after being a key contributor in 2017. Harrison Heath, Hector Morales and Lance Rozeboom rounded out a veteran-laden midfield group. To complete the offseason signings, Dalglish added significant goal-scoring threats with top-level professional experience in Miguel González, Lloyd Sam and Mohamed Thiaw. The club even discovered a star from its preseason open tryout in January, when Callum Chapman-Page turned heads and earned a valuable defender position on the club. A late signing of forward Othello Bah rounded out the 2019 roster.

On the technical staff, Assistant Coach Nelson Vargas returned while Dalglish added long-time Goalkeepers Coach Paul Crichton and Assistant Coach Anthony Hazelwood. With a full competitive roster and technical staff complete, The Miami FC was ready to begin training and prepare for its National Championship defense. 

PRESEASON PERFECTION

The first order of business for the 2019 Miami FC was to begin training and get new players familiar with each other while learning Coach Dalglish’s system. The club reported to preseason training at St. Thomas University in mid-January and immediately began conditioning and tactical work. By the time the team traveled to face Orlando City B for its first preseason match on February 17th, the club already appeared to be in midseason form. The Miami FC defeated Orlando City B 4-0, and followed the performance with a 3-2 win over Hartford Athletic six days later. The Miami FC scrimmaged against several local universities in the South Florida area before officially entering the 2019 regular season campaign. The club announced toward the end of the preseason that it would be playing its 2019 home matches at Buccaneer Field on the campus of Barry University in Miami Shores. Buccaneer Field provided a state-of-the-art field, first class amenities and a 1,500-seat facility for the club to create an impactful home field advantage.

MAGIC CITY MADNESS TO OPEN THE SEASON

A flurry of unfortunate injuries at the end of the preseason, including to star forward Ariel Martínez, brought concern for the club as it prepared for its opening home-and-home Magic City Clásico clash with bitter rival Miami United FC. The series was tied from last season with both teams earning 1-1 draws during the first two weeks of the season. In the opening match of the 2019 season, The Miami FC hosted Miami United and finally earned a decisive victory over their crosstown rival, 2-0 in front of a sold-out crowd at Barry University. A stunning long-distance strike from Darío Suárez and a clever Olimpico goal from a corner kick by Tomás Granitto were enough to seal the victory over the visitors from Hialeah.

The following week, Miami FC traveled to North Miami Athletic Stadium and suffered a bitter 2-0 loss to Miami United in a match where the club could never find its footing offensively. The result meant that the Magic City Clásico series is yet to be defined after being all even through its first four matches. The two clubs won’t see each other again until a potential Sunshine Conference playoff match-up this coming July. 

The Miami FC would have one more NPSL match before it entered Open Cup play, a short ride up to Central Broward County Stadium to face Storm FC. The club rebounded in fine form as it dominated Storm FC en route to a 10-0 thrashing. The 10 goals were a Miami FC record and the largest margin of victory in the club’s history. Miguel González, Darío Suárez and Mohamed Thiaw each scored two goals in the contest to lead the way. The club also got goal contributions from Ariel Martínez, Brenton Griffiths, Lloyd Sam and John Neeskens, the latter three scoring their first-ever goals for the club in the process.

OPEN CUP

Many Miami FC supporters trace the club’s seminal moment back to the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, when the club embarked on a historic run throughout the nationwide competition which annually crowns the greatest soccer club in the United States. The Miami FC announced itself to the nation that year by defeating MLS clubs Orlando City SC and Atlanta United before eventually falling to FC Cincinnati.  Since that run, The Miami FC has searched for the magic that they found on the way to the Quarterfinals of the tournament that season. The 2018 Cup Run fell short on an abrupt home loss to Miami United, and the club was hoping to erase that bitter feeling in 2019. 

Unfortunately for the Orange and Blue, their First Round opponent in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup would come in the form of an extremely talented local qualifier, the Florida Soccer Soldiers of the UPSL. The Soccer Soldiers had not been defeated in a match thus far, and after surrendering an early goal to The Miami FC, the upstart club found a second-half equalizer in the form of a fortunate ricochet into the net. Another late goal for the Soccer Soldiers sealed the “cupset” and resulted in another early exit from the tournament for The Miami FC. 

After such a crushing defeat, the club would have to find its confidence and form quickly, as a grueling slate of NPSL matches was quickly approaching.

FINDING THE FORM

Just two days after the Open Cup loss to the Florida Soccer Soldiers, The Miami FC found itself on a six-hour bus ride to Jacksonville on May 11th to face another long-time rival, the Jacksonville Armada FC. With essentially no time to train for the match, the club was going to have to rely on its strategy, athleticism and experience to leave Jacksonville with three points. 

The Orange and Blue answered the bell with a dominating 7-0 triumph over Jacksonville. In that match, Thiaw notched his first-career hat trick as a professional and added two assists. González dished out a hat trick of assists and earned himself a brace with a pair of beautiful finishes. Neeskens and Suárez both continued their goalscoring form by knocking in tallies for the second-consecutive week. 

The club’s statewide road trip continued the following week on May 18th as Miami ventured north to Winter Park to battle the newest member of the Sunshine Conference, the Central Florida Panthers SC. Once again, the Orange and Blue swarmed their opponent, this time on pace to a 6-0 victory that was aided by braces from González and Dylan Mares. Ariel Martínez and Shawn Chin added goals as well to put the contest out of reach.

The three-match Sunshine Conference tear against Storm FC, Jacksonville Armada and Central Florida Panthers featured some stunning statistics, as The Miami FC scored 23 goals with zero given up. Miami has also outshot conference opponents 94 to 36 and gotten 31 more Shots On Goal than its opponents. Miami has outscored the entire Sunshine Conference combined along with a +23 goal differential, which ranks second nationally out of 91 NPSL teams across the country. In the South Region of the NPSL (25 clubs), The Miami FC features the top three goal scorers (Thiaw-5, Suarez-5, Gonzalez-5). The goalkeeping has also been outstanding, with Mark Pais registering three clean sheets out of his four starts, and veteran keeper Lionel Brown picking up a clean sheet in his only start.   

THE ROAD AHEAD

The Miami FC returns for the second half of the season on Saturday, June 1st and welcomes Storm FC to Barry University for a 7:00 PM kickoff. The following week, the Central Florida Panthers SC will make their first-ever trip to Buccaneer Field on June 8th. The Orange and Blue will then finally match up with Naples United FC for a home-and-home, in Naples on Saturday, June 15th and in Miami on June 22nd. The Miami FC's regular season closes at home on July 6th against the Jacksonville Armada. 

The Sunshine Conference Playoffs will begin the week of July 9th with the top four teams in the conference qualifying for postseason play.  The top seed will host the fourth seed and the second seed will host the third seed, with the Conference Championship game being hosted by the top remaining seed on Saturday, July 13th. Last season, The Miami FC hosted postseason matches all the way through the National Semifinal, before heading to Morristown, New Jersey where they defeated FC Motown to win the National Championship. All Miami FC remaining NPSL home matches, including playoffs, will be played at Barry University and will be available on MiamiFC.com through the Miami FC Broadcast Network and Magic City Soccer. Tickets for all home matches are just $10 for adults, and kids 12 and under received free admission.

NPSL FOUNDERS CUP

Later this summer after the NPSL season has concluded, The Miami FC will join nine other clubs in the first-ever NPSL Founders Cup competition. The Miami FC will host Detroit City FC in its first-ever Founders Cup match, on Saturday, August 10th. The remaining home schedule features matches versus the long-time rival New York Cosmos, the Milwaukee Torrent, Miami United FC and Chattanooga FC. The Miami FC will play its home matches at Buccaneer Field on the campus of Barry University. However, the club has confirmed that the August 31 home match against the New York Cosmos will take place at Riccardo Silva Stadium on the campus of FIU.

The Miami FC will be one of six clubs who will make up the East Region of the Founders Cup. The six East Region clubs will compete in a home-and-away format to make up each club’s 10-match regular season schedule. The West Region will consist of ASC San Diego, FC Arizona, Oakland Roots SC and Napa Valley 1839 FC. The postseason format will consist of a four-team playoff, featuring the top two teams from each region. The semifinal matches will take place on Saturday, November 2nd with the top two seeded teams hosting, and the Championship Final will be on Saturday, November 16th with the top remaining seed hosting the one-game championship final.

Tickets for The Miami FC Founders Cup home schedule will go on sale soon. In the meantime, fans can join The Miami FC ticket information list by calling 844-MIAMIFC, or follow the club on social media @TheMiamiFC.

THE MIAMI FC 2019 SCHEDULE

DAY

DATE

MATCH

VENUE

TIME

STREAM

RESULT

SCORE

W/D/L

Sat

April 20

VS. MIAMI UNITED FC

Barry Uni., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

MiamiFC.com

W

2 - 0

1-0-0

Sat

April 27

at Miami United FC

N. Miami Stadium, N. Miami

7:30 PM

 

L

0 - 2

1-0-1

Sat

May 4

at Storm FC

Cen. Broward Stadium, FTL

5:30 PM

 

W

10 - 0

2-0-1

Wed

May 8

VS. FL SOCCER SOLDIERS *

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

ESPN+

L

1 - 2

eliminated

Sat

May 11

at Jacksonville Armada

Patton Park, Jacksonville

7:00 PM

 

W

7 - 0

3-0-1

Sat

May 18

at Central Florida Panthers

Showalter Field, Winter Park

6:00 PM

 

W

6 - 0

4-0-1

Sat

June 1

VS. STORM FC

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

MiamiFC.com

 

 

 

Sat

June 8

VS. CENTRAL FL PANTHERS

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

MiamiFC.com

 

 

 

Sat

June 15

at Naples United FC

Palmetto Ridge HS, Naples

5:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

June 22

VS. NAPLES UNITED FC

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

MiamiFC.com

 

 

 

Sat

July 6

VS. JACKSONVILLE ARMADA

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

MiamiFC.com

 

 

 

T/W

July 9-10

Sunshine Conference Semifinal**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat

July 13

Sunshine Conference Final**

 

 

 

 

 

 

T/W

July 16-17

South Region Semifinal**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat

July 20

South Region Final**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat

July 27

National Semifinal**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat

Aug. 3

National Championship**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat

Aug. 10

VS. DETROIT CITY FC ^

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Aug. 17

at Miami United FC ^

TBD

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Aug. 24

at Chattanooga FC ^

Finley Stadium, Chattanooga

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Aug. 31

VS. NEW YORK COSMOS ^

Riccardo Silva Stadium, Miami

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sun

Sept. 22

VS. MILWAUKEE TORRENT ^

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Sept. 28

at Detroit City FC ^

Keyworth Stadium, Detroit

7:30 PM

 

 

 

 

Sun

Oct. 6

VS. MIAMI UNITED FC ^

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Oct. 12

at Milwaukee Torrent ^

Hart Park, Wauwatosa, WI

8:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Oct. 19

at New York Cosmos ^

Mitchel Ath. Complex, Uniondale

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Oct. 26

VS. CHATTANOOGA FC ^

Barry Univ., Miami Shores

7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Sat

Nov. 2

Founders Cup Semifinal ^^

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat

Nov. 16

Founders Cup Final ^^

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 

* U.S. Open Cup

 

           

** NPSL Playoffs

 

           

^ NPSL Founders Cup

           

^^ NPSL Founders Cup Playoffs

           

 

Top FIRST HALF Performers

Miguel González: 6 goals, 4 assists, 11 shots, 7 shots on goal, 3 game-winning goals

Mohamed Thiaw: 5 goals, 2 assists, 16 shots, 9 shots on goal

Darío Suárez: 5 goals, 2 assists, 17 shots, 9 shots on goal, 1 game-winning goal

Dylan Mares: 2 goals, 3 assists, 11 shots

SOUTH REGION TOP GOAL SCORERS (AS OF MAY 20)

RK

NAME

CLUB

GOALS

GP

GPG

1

MIGUEL GONZÁLEZ

THE MIAMI FC

6

5

1.2

2

DARÍO SUÁREZ

THE MIAMI FC

5

5

1.0

3

MOHAMED THIAW

THE MIAMI FC

5

5

1.0

4

John Sinisterra

Miami United FC

4

5

0.8

5

Matheus Bettio

Miami United FC

4

5

0.8

6

Jamie Lovegrove

Fort Worth Vaqueros FC

3

2

1.5

7

Aboubakr Diallo

Tulsa Athletic

3

3

1.0

8

Bryan Perea

Miami United FC

3

5

0.8

9

Eduardo Bonatto

Midland-Odessa Sockers FC

2

1

2.0

10

Jacob Tellez

Dallas City FC

2

1

2.0

SUNSHINE CONFERENCE TOP GOAL SCORERS (AS OF MAY 20)

RK

NAME

CLUB

GOALS

GP

GPG

1

MIGUEL GONZÁLEZ

THE MIAMI FC

6

5

1.2

2

DARÍO SUÁREZ

THE MIAMI FC

5

5

1.0

3

MOHAMED THIAW

THE MIAMI FC

5

5

1.0

4

John Sinisterra

Miami United FC

4

5

0.8

5

Matheus Bettio

Miami United FC

4

5

0.8

6

Bryan Perea

Miami United FC

3

5

0.8

7

DYLAN MARES

THE MIAMI FC

2

5

0.4