The Oppo: The Miami FC

Soccer Way Down South

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Welcome to The Oppo, a pre-season series in which we take a look at all eleven teams the Legion will face in the regular season. The rundown will be in reverse order of when the Three Sparks first play the team. First up is The Miami FC, who will host the Legion on June 23rd. 

Overview

The Miami FC started play in 2016. They seemed to find their stride in 2017 in NASL . Ending both the 2017 Spring and Fall Divisions in first place. That form continued on into the  NPSL , and  NISA.   Again finishing first, and becoming champions of the 2018 and 2019 NASL playoffs. Miami FC also became the 2019/2020 NISA champions. They bought out the Ottawa Fury, a Canadian team that was competing in the USL, to make their introduction to the league at the start of the 2020 USL season. 2020, being what it was, caused a misstep in the Miami FC form seeing them come in third in their group.  

Coaches

Paul Dalglish. It’s no surprise that Miami FC have done so well for so long, when you look at Paul’s coaching pedigree. Having spent virtually every minute of his coaching and managerial career in the USSF, he brings knowledge from every league in the United States. From MLS all the way down to the NASL and PDL(now USL 2) leagues. Having spent time with both Huston Dynamo, and Real Salt Lake of MLS, Dalglish has seen first hand what’s expected from these younger players to make it in a professional division. He has also seen the pitfalls of younger players and divisions alike. He’s been navigating those choppy waters quite well for a number of years now though.  

With that, and everything Assistant head coach Jed Davies brings to the table, being a professor of Strategy in Sport: Association Football, Miami FC are in some good hands. 

Bringing in and promoting a calm mentality throughout his team is what he thinks helps keep Miami FC on the front foot. Just taking everything in stride and keep on marching forward. While they fell a little flat last season, Dalglish and Miami FC already have a preseason win over MLS side New York Red Bulls , and I’m sure they look to keep that momentum going into the 2021 regular season.

Roster

Goal Keepers: Brian Sylvestre, Conner Sparrow

Defenders: János Löbe, Othello Bah, Paco Craig, Ramon Martin Del Campo, Sean McFarlane, Callum Chapman-Page, Luca Antonelli

Midfielders: Lance Rozeboom, Bolu Akinyode, Junior Palacios, Devon “Speedy” Williams, Jahshaun Anglin

Forwards: Ariel Martinez, Billy Forbes, Christiano François, Richard Ballard, Pierre Da Silva, Adonijah Reid, Lamar Walker 

With a limited preseason, due to Covid cancellations, we haven’t been able to see much of what this years Miami FC will look like yet. However, they did roll out a strong starting XI against Red Bulls New York just over a week ago. With a spine of Sparrow(GK), Sean(DEF), and Speedy(MID), supporting a two prong attack in Francois, and Da Silva they were able to confound the Red Bulls and come home 2 goals to the good, with a clean sheet intact.

It should be noted that this was the Red Bulls’ first competitive game of the preseason. It’s still an MLS side seemingly ever present in the playoffs, so this is still a good win for Miami FC.

Be on the look out for Sean McFarlane and Devon “Speedy” Williams. You can see it in his name, Speedy, and pace kills. With two strikers up top to occupy the back line, any little chink in the armor is susceptible to the dagger of Devon’s quickness.

Miami FC also sees the return of Sean FcFarlane. He’s a defender that puts in more than his fare share of offensive work. Sean’s second season with Miami may bring out his best. Already finding himself on USL’s Five More(Fullbacks) To Watch 2021 preview, McFarlane and Miami alike will be hoping for a stand out season from the fullback.

And let’s not forget Bolu Akinyode, who will be familiar to Legion fans. He joined Miami in January this year.

Schedule

Miami FC will finally get their true introduction to USL play this year. While they will be running a regular season schedule like everyone else, they have the small benefit of playing their first two out of conference teams at home. Birmingham Legion being the second team traveling to test the newbies. That one should be a good showing. Last time out the Legion visited they put up five goals without response against the Floridian side.

Miami FC will have a full month of training, and plenty of matches under their belt, before then though. That’s tons of time for the team to gel, and work out their kinks. Dalglish and co will be hoping for just that especially before the turn of August. That month will be the truest test of Miami FCs strength in the USL. With a three game away stretch that sees them play twice in one week, concluding in Miami FCs first out of conference away game against Austin Bold FC. This will be the pivot point in the season for them. If they get out of that stretch of matches with 5 or more points, then we’ll know that Miami FC is truly, finally arrived in the USL.

Conclusion

If Dalglish accomplishes his goal of keeping a calm team, and shoring up his back line that let in the third most goals last year, then Miami FC should be in for a fun ride. They’ve already tripped up an MLS powerhouse of sorts in Red Bulls New York, and they have just announced three more pre-season friendlies. Two of which will be behind closed doors, but again against MLS caliber opposition against their close neighbors Inter Miami.  With all the extra work, this should be an interesting year for Miami FC.

Final Grade: B-

While Miami FC were powerhouses of leagues long past last year’s poor showing, and another inevitable learning curve to this year’s regular season, I think they’ll slowly find their footing over the course of this season. 

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