The Miami FC's Road to the National Championship

Jul 30, 2019

The Miami FC has reached the NPSL National Championship for the second year in a row, and it has done so by losing just one match – out of 15 – all season. The Orange and Blue has scored 65 goals all season and given up a measly eight. With that type of dominance, Miami has stormed through the playoffs. Here is the path it took to get to the championship match.

Sunshine Conference Semifinal: 4-0 Win Over Jacksonville Armada FC U-23

Miami clinched the top seed in the Sunshine Conference after a stellar regular season and two crucial, late-season victories over top seed contender Naples United FC. Being the top seed gave Miami home field advantage and a match against the fourth and lowest seed in the conference, Jacksonville Armada FC U-23.

Darío Suárez got the scoring started in the 24th minute with a deflected shot that bounced into the net. Three second half goals, including one from Ariel Martínez and two from Mohamed Thiaw, put Jacksonville away and set Miami up for a mouthwatering Conference Final matchup against bitter rival Miami United FC.

Sunshine Conference Final: 3-2 Win Over Miami United FC

Miami FC and Miami United FC met twice within the first two weeks of the season, with the teams splitting 2-0 home victories. The seasons for the respective teams unfolded very differently following the second match, as the Orange and Blue ended up not losing another match and United couldn't climb out of third place in the conference.

In the Conference Final, the reigning NPSL champs took an early lead in the 10th minute through a beautifull executed Panenka penalty kick by Martínez. United responded with two goals before halftime that likely would've struck fear into any other team, but Miami FC has frequently responded to adversity. Martínez popped up again with a well-struck volley that equalized the match in the 57th minute. About 10 minutes later, Martínez set up Miguel González to slot home his finish and score the match-winning goal in a thrilling come-from-behind victory.

South Region Semifinal: 2-0 Win Over Chattanooga FC

After clinching the top seed in the South Region, Miami welcomed one of the most well-known and established clubs in American soccer – Chattanooga FC – to town. A contentious first half saw the match go into the break tied at 0-0, with both teams unable to break down stout defensive lines.

In the 66th minute, a Hector Morales close-distance strike opened up the match in Miami's favor. Then, 15 minutes later, Dylan Mares was brought down in the box for a penalty kick opportunity. Martínez stepped up to the spot and buried his penalty to put Miami up by two and catapult his team into the Region Final.

South Region Final: 4-1 Win Over Tulsa Athletic

With a spot in the NPSL National Playoffs on the line, underdog Tulsa Athletic came out swinging in the Region Final, going ahead in the 25th minute through an Aboubakr Diallo tally. But as has been the case for nearly every NPSL match it has played in, Miami tired its opponent out in the second half by dominating possession and pouring in scoring chances.

The Orange and Blue equaled the match in the 61st minute, when Granitto hit a dipping, swerving long shot that ricohceted off the crossbar and was headed home by González. Miami took a 2-1 lead eight minutes later through Darío Suárez, added to its lead in the 83rd minute with Martínez' third score from the penalty spot in as many matches, and then put the match away with one minute left to spare, as Hector Morales picked out another perfect through ball for Martínez to get his brace and finish off Tulsa.

NPSL National Semifinal: 4-1 Win Over Cleveland SC

Early on in the National Semifinal, nerves were present on both sides, and both teams were unwilling to allow much offense to be created in their respective final thirds. A stout defensive battle ended 0-0 after the first 45 minutes and left the squads searching for adjustments. 

For the second week in a row, Miami exploded its offense into life in the second half, piling on four goals yet again. A well-placed header from Callum Chapman-Page, an outside-the-box shot from Martínez, a slotted-home finish from González and a sublimely-struck rocket from Harrison Heath carried the Orange and Blue to its second-consecutive berth in the NPSL Championship.