“Dale Campeón! Dale Campeón! Dale Campeón!” echoed the Ted Hendricks Stadium on Saturday night as the number one ranked Miami Fusion defeated crosstown rival Miami United for their final match of the NPSL regular season.
The two Miami-based clubs always put on a great showing whenever they meet up and this game was no exception with both of the teams fighting for the rights to be named King of Miami for 2017.
Early on in the season the Fusion took the first Miami rivalry match-up of the season with a 5-2 result at home. With tensions high, this crosstown rematch was sure to be a physical fight to the final minute.
Miami United kicked off at Ted Hendricks Stadium Saturday night with the hopes of spoiling the Miami Fusion’s regular season just one week prior to the Fusion’s NPSL playoff opener. The Fusion started the match in a 4-3-3 formation, changing things up a bit from their usual 3-5-2 that has brought them a lot of success throughout the 2017 season.
However, just about ten minutes into what seemed to be a shaky start for the Miami Fusion, head coach Ferdinando De Matthaeis had enough and opted to transition back to the team’s original formation. The first half was back-and-forth with both teams creating several chances for themselves just falling short of a goal. The first half ended with a 0-0 tie, sending the men back to the locker room to deliberate roster changes and a halftime pep talk from De Matthaies to send the Fusion back out for the second half.
The second half would heat up early with the Miami Fusion pushing for a go-ahead goal. In the 60th minute the Fusion thought they found their moment when Victor Cardoso executed on a bouncy ball in the front of the goal. Cardoso volleyed the ball just feet in front of the goal for what the team believed was their opening goal. During the celebration, the Fusion’s joy quickly faded with a whistle and the fervent wave of the linesman’s flag. The goal was called back due to an offside play.
Minutes later Miami United would go down to ten men after a red card. This deficit clearly hurt United, leading to an opportunity for the Fusion in the 70th minute. The speedy winger Darryl Gordon carried the ball down the right side of the field to cross the ball in to the center of the 18. The ball ricocheted off of a United defender to the feet of halftime substitute David Ochoa, who then fired the ball into the top right corner of the goal from outside the box for a goal that would stick this time.
The attacks did not stop for the Fusion and two minutes later their leading scorer of the season Victor Cardoso took a long range shot that dipped down heading right for the bottom right corner, forcing the United keeper to make a spectacular save at full stretch.
The game ended after about two minutes of stoppage time with a 1-0 victory for the Sunshine Conference champions and number one ranked Miami Fusion. The victory was sweet for the Fusion men as they rushed the field chanting to receive the conference championship trophy.
De Matthaeis continued to praise his team and their accomplishments this season.
“We have a great team this year that I believe can go all the way if we continue to work hard. The guys are happy to have won the Sunshine Conference, but now we need to look at the national title.”
The Miami Fusion will begin postseason play next Saturday when they will host Inter Nashville FC.