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MIAMI BRACES FOR THE MAGIC CITY CLÁSICO

The first edition of the Magic City Clásico didn’t disappoint as Miami United FC and Miami FC 2 battled to an exciting 1-1 draw at Milander Park on April 15th.  Now round two takes place on Miami FC 2’s home turf on April 21st.

A spirited crowd is expected with reserved bleacher seating already sold out.  Those fans and supporters will be up close and personal with the action, less than 10 feet away from the pitch.  It’s sure to be an intimate setting at Bobcat Field on the campus of St. Thomas University.

No wonder this matchup was named the NPSL’s National Game of the Week.  This game literally has everything covered.  It’s a rivalry that has the entire city of Miami buzzing and for good reason.

Miami United is a perennial contender in the NPSL, always one of the favorites to win the Sunshine Conference and make a run in the national playoffs.  The club, which has had international superstars like Adriano and Julio César “Rambo” de León on their roster, continues to be loaded with talent at every position.

“We are looking forward to reach the playoffs in the Sunshine Conference and to advance in the U.S. Open Cup as much as we can,” Miami United FC team manager Crispino Meola commented. “The team is 90% new and we believe that, for being a new team, we are already playing pretty well. Of course we need improvement and we will definitely get better. We have good starting players and whoever comes from the bench are also very good players.”

Daniel Navarro and Elusma Pierre lead a strong backline that plays in front of a pair of skilled goalkeepers. Thomas Granitto, Nicolas Gorobsov, Cesar Eze Tejera, and David Ochoa are all leading midfielders, while forward Gabrielle Privitera provides the goalscoring punch up top.  Privitera, just 18 years old, was seen by many as one of the top players on the field in the first match against Miami FC 2.

Miami FC 2 Head Coach Paul Dalglish also has plenty with work with, thanks to a talented roster that rivals any team in the country.

Daniel Vega, a former River Plate keeper, has been with Miami FC since day one and has only missed one match in three years with the club. He won the Golden Glove award last year for his amazing performance in the NASL, posting 15 clean sheets and making 82 saves.  Mason Trafford has been the anchor of the Miami FC defense since the very beginning, not only protecting the goal but helping initiate the offense. In the NASL last season the Miami FC defense was the stingiest in the league and Trafford finished the season as one of the top passers in the league, regardless of position.

Dylan Mares is a truly gifted midfielder who can do and will do anything to get the ball in the back of the net. His speed and non-stop engine are a nightmare combination for the opposition. Once he gets to the box he can either lay off a pass or shoot it himself. Last season he was a top 10 goal scorer with eight and was a top 10 chance creator with 42.  Vincenzo Rennella  is a wizard with the ball at his feet. The French forward’s vision and precision with his passes and shots make it nearly impossible to mark him. Coupled with his great size and athleticism, Rennella is everything you could ask for in a forward. Even after missing significant time last season, Rennella finished as the NASL season as the number two goal scorer with 11 and the number three assist man with six.

Like Miami United, Miam FC 2 is a favorite to win some serious hardware.  Winning championships is always a goal for Miami FC 2 and they will certainly be in the mix for the Sunshine Conference crown as well as the  NPSL National Championship and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.  There is plenty of experience on the Miami FC 2 sideline with 11 players from the 2017 Miami FC club which won the NASL Spring and Fall Season Championships and reached the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

Dalglish is looking forward to round two of the Clásico after such an exciting match to kick off the rivalry.

“This was a very difficult game for us and Miami United deserve a lot of credit for their performance.  It was certainly a much needed competitive game that has sharpened the minds of the players and staff which resulted in extra competitiveness in training. We are excited to play in front of our home fans on Saturday and want to put on a performance for the sellout crowd to reward them for sticking with us through a difficult summer.”

What lessons can be learned from the first match of the Magic City Clásico?

“They can expect that our team will put on the field everything we have and we will try to win the game in their home,” Meola added. “We played a good first half in the past game and we relaxed a bit too much in the second. We will keep up the intensity of the game for the whole 90 minutes.”

Regardless of the outcome, this derby will have an impact on the community for many years to come.  Why? It’s quite simple.

This is one of the only true Miami derbies. South Florida has no shortage of  teams, but Miami United FC and Miami FC 2 represent the city right now. Both these clubs have a history against other professional teams in the state like the Rowdies and Armada, but no one else has this kind of proximity with a rival. Rivalries bring out the best in players, fans, and supporters and that is what the Magic City Clásico is built upon.

The Clásico is a great way to kick off the NPSL season in Miami.  A great summer of soccer awaits those in South Florida, including some great U.S. Open Cup matchups featuring both Miami United FC and Miami FC 2.  And this is just the beginning.

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